Source Department of Transplantation, Reconstruction and Endoscopic Surgery, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan.
OBJECTIVES: Living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) offers timely transplantation for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). If ABO-incompatible LDLT is feasible, the needs for pretransplantation treatments may be eliminated. It is known that negative impacts of immunosuppression are limited among LDLT for HCC, however, we believe that excessive immunosuppression is one of the risk factors for recurrence. We compared the impacts of immunosuppression for LDLT with hepatectomy outcomes for HCC.
METHODS: From 1991 to 2010, we performed 144 LDLTs including 14 patients with HCC. Seven met the Milan criteria. Immunosuppressive therapies were based on tacrolimus plus methylprednisolone plus CD25 antibody. For ABO-incompatible cases, we also used mycophenolate mofetil and rituximab. Five cases underwent strong imunosuppressive therapy (steroid pulse or rituximab) within 180 days. In addition, we performed hepatectomy for 180 HCC cases from 1997 to 2010.
RESULTS: Overall survival rates of the LDLT cohort and hepatectomy groups were similar, but disease-free 5-year survival rates (DFS) of the LDLT cohort were significantly better than those of the hepatectomy group (total = 54.4% versus 27.4%, within the Milan criteria cases, 71.4% versus 33.8%). Thus, the negative impact of immunosuppression on recurrence was less than the benefit of a whole liver resection. Among strongly immunosuppressed cases, 5-years DFS rates were significantly worse than among other immunosuppressed cases (20.0% versus 76.2%). Upon univariate analysis, the factors associated with HCC recurrence were alpha-fetoprotein levels and steroid doses within 180 days, but multivariate analysis did not show a predictor for recurrence.
CONCLUSION: Patients who are strongly immunosuppressed may have several negative impacts for recurrences. More careful indications must be selected for ABO-incompatible cases.