In the USA approximately 10% of candidates for renal transplantation have serum antibodies to hepatitis C (HCV). To assess the possible impact of HCV infection on early posttransplant events we assessed allograft complications during the first 6 months following renal transplantation in three groups of adult renal allograft recipients: (1) HCV antibody positive recipients (R-HCV) (n=32); (2) HCV negative recipients who received kidneys from HCV antibody positive donors (D-HCV) (n=48); and (3) HCV negative recipients of HCV negative allografts who were transplanted during the same time period as R-HCV (Ctrl) (n=204). Allograft biopsies were done for evaluation of allograft dysfunction during the first 6 months posttransplant in 58% of Ctrl, 42% of D-HCV, and 63% of R-HCV (not significantly different). The prevalence of acute tubulointerstitial rejection was similar among the 3 groups of patients. In contrast, compared with Ctrl, both R-HCV and D-HCV had a significantly higher prevalence of acute transplant glomerulopathy (Ctrl, 6%; R-HCV, 55%, P<.0001; D-HCV 40%, P=.0004). Acute vascular rejection was more common in R-HCV (60%) than in Ctrl (28%) (P=.009) and the prevalence of chronic vascular rejection was also higher in R-HCV (60%) than in Ctrl (31%) (P=.01). Furthermore, chronic vascular rejection was diagnosed earlier in R- HCV(64% of cases within one month posttransplantation) than in Ctrl (19% within one month) (P=.01). Death censored renal allograft losses occurred in 14% of Ctrl, 17% of D-HCV, and 26% of R-HCV (not significant). In conclusion, R-HCV patients have a high prevalence of severe acute pathologic findings in renal allograft biopsies obtained early after transplantation and develop chronic vascular rejection more often and earlier than HCV negative recipients. These studies also confirm the previously reported association of HCV with acute transplant glomerulopathy.
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