Glomerular abnormalities are frequent in patients undergoing liver transplantation; however, renal dysfunction following transplantation is mainly attributed to cyclosporine toxicity. Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) is seen in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), the virus responsible for 30% of the end-stage liver disease leading to liver transplantation. To determine the incidence of renal abnormalities in liver transplant recipients and the association with HCV, we undertook a longitudinal study in HCV-positive (n=91) and HCV-negative (n=106) liver transplant recipients. Mean creatinine clearance before transplantation was 94 ml/min/1.73 m2 in HCV+ patients and 88 ml/min/l.73 m2 in HCV-patients. By 3 months after transplantation, the mean creatinine clearance decreased by approximately one third in both groups. A greater proportion of HCV+ patients excreted >2 g protein/day after transplantation (P=0.05) and had renal biopsies showing MPGN than did HCV- recipients (4/10 HCV+ patients vs. 0/7 HCV- patients; P=0.1). In the HCV+ group, proteinuria was not associated with recurrent HCV hepatitis, DQ matching, posttransplant diabetes, or hypertension. Treatment of HCV-related MPGN with interferon-α2b appeared to stabilize proteinuria and renal function but did not reverse renal dysfunction nor cause liver allograft rejection. After transplantation, HCV+ patients had similar renal function over 3 years after transplantation, compared with HCV- patients, but they had an increased risk of proteinuria and occurrence of MPGN that was only partially responsive to interferon.
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