Background: Hepatitis C (HCV) universally recurs following orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), representing an important cause for retransplantation. Although it is often treated with interferon and ribavirin, ribavirin is contraindicated in the presence of renal failure. In this setting of renal failure, pegylated-interferon monotherapy may be useful for recurrent HCV in liver transplant patients. Methods: Between June 2001 and November 2002, patients with recurrent HCV were screened to determine if they were eligible for treatment. Renal failure was defined as serum creatinine greater than 1.8 mg/dL. HCVRNA and liver biopsies were performed prior to treatment, end of treatment (EOT) and 6 months after EOT for those who were HCV-RNA negative at EOT. Patients were followed prospectively after starting weekly pegylated-interferon alpha 2b 1.0 μg/kg (Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, NJ, USA). Results: Among the 45 patients with recurrent HCV screened, 9 were eligible, including 8 men and 1 woman of average age 55 years. Eight patients were intolerant to the treatment requiring discontinuation within the first 3 months. Two patients developed a sustained response to HCV eradication. One patient who completed treatment has normal liver tests but is still viremic. Conclusion: Pegylated-interferon alpha 2b is poorly tolerated in liver transplant recipients with recurrent HCV and chronic renal failure. Larger, prospective studies are required to determine the optimum duration of treatment and the impact of treatment on histology and quality of life.
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