Antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis C in patients with advanced liver disease and after liver transplantation
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- Peveling-Oberhag, J., Zeuzem, S. & Hofmann, W.P. Med Microbiol Immunol (2010) 199: 1. doi:10.1007/s00430-009-0131-8
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Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents one of the major causes for end-stage liver disease worldwide. Although liver transplantation offers an effective treatment, HCV reinfection of the transplanted graft is a critical and almost inevitable complication with major influence on graft- and patient survival. Pre-transplant antiviral therapy in advanced liver disease is limited by poor tolerance and only applicable to mildly decompensated patients but was able to show promising results in patients reaching negative viral load when undergoing transplantation. Prophylactic therapy with HCV antibodies during the anhepatic phase has not been shown to be effective in studies to date. Antiviral therapy after transplantation but before evidence of reinfection, so called pre-emptive treatment, is limited by frequent complications and a high rate of side effects. The mainstay of management represents directed antiviral therapy after evidence of recurrence of chronic Hepatitis C. With a combination therapy of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, sustained virologic response rates of 25–45% are achieved. However, tolerability is often poor, and the need of dose reduction is frequent. To date, there is no general consensus on modality, timing and dosing of antiviral treatment of HCV in patients with advanced liver disease and after liver transplantation. More randomised, controlled trials are needed. Moreover, upcoming new treatment approaches, e.g. specifically targeted antiviral therapy for hepatitis C (STAT-C) with HCV-specific polymerase and protease inhibitors, may represent a therapeutic alternative.