Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
The IL-28 gene is associated with sustained viral response (SVR) after treatment with peg-IFN and ribavirin in liver transplant recipients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 infection. We analysed the importance of recipient and donor IL-28B genotype for response to treatment and fibrosis progression in 54 liver transplant recipients. Fibrosis stage (F) was defined as mild when F≤2 and severe when F≥3 in a liver biopsy or according to liver elasticity analysis. We found a significantly lower prevalence of IL-28B SNP CC in the recipients (22%) than in the donors (67%), P<0.0001. SVR was seen in 61% of the recipients with mild and 27% with severe fibrosis pretreatment, P=0.01. Recipients with IL-28 CC and non-CC had mild fibrosis in 64% and 38% prior to treatment, P=0.13. At follow-up, after treatment, significantly more recipients with CC had mild fibrosis than non-CC recipients (75% versus 32%, P=0.0072), and all with CC and SVR had mild fibrosis. The strongest baseline factor predicting SVR was genotype. Hence, 13/19 (68%) genotype non-1 patients reached SVR versus only 9/35 (26%) genotype 1 patients, P=0.0022. In summary, we found that liver transplant recipients with IL-28B CC tended to have less advanced fibrosis prior to and significantly less after SOC treatment and that all recipients with IL-28B CC who achieved SVR had mild fibrosis at follow-up. A significantly higher SVR rate was achieved in recipients with mild than severe fibrosis pretreatment and with genotype non-1 than 1 infection. Our findings indicate that treatment for post-transplant HCV recurrence should be offered before advanced fibrosis is seen in the recipient.