The impact of hepatitis E infection on hepatic fibrosis in liver transplanted patients for hepatitis C infection


ABSTRACT Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) is an infection known worldwide for its asymptomatic and self-limited course in most cases. Some cases progressing to chronicity have been described in immunosuppressed patients, especially in recipients of solid organ transplants. We evaluated laboratory parameters of HEV infection (HEV RNA, anti-HEV IgM and anti-HEV IgG) through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Elisa), confirmed by immunoblotting, in a cohort of 294 patients who received liver transplants at the HCFMUSP (Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo). Laboratory and demographic data were collected from the entirety of the transplanted population. Hepatic biopsies of 122 patients transplanted due liver failure secondary to hepatitis C (HCV), with or without serological or molecular markers of HEV, were analyzed according to METAVIR score. Out of 24 (8.2%) patients tested positive for anti-HEV IgG, six (2%) were positive for anti-HEV IgM and 17 (5.8%) for HEV RNA. Of the patients transplanted because of HCV infection, 95 (77.8%) had received treatment including ribavirin for at least six months before blood sample collection. Among patients transplanted due to HCV cirrhosis who tested positive for anti-HEV IgG, only three (37.5%) showed fibrosis beyond stage 2, while five (41.7%) of the HEV RNA-positive patients had liver fibrosis beyond stage 2. Overall, the prevalence of HEV in the post-hepatic transplant scenario appears to be low, and, at least histologically, seemingly not harmful. We conclude that, although some studies reported a risk of HEV chronification, patients who had their livers transplanted due to HCV and showed serological or molecular markers of HEV did not have higher levels of fibrosis compared to patients who showed no indications of HEV infection at the time of the analysis.



Liver transplantation, Liver fibrosis, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis E