Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.
Because of the unrelenting donor shortage, utilization of all potential liver donors is essential. However, when utilizing marginal donors it is critical to precisely characterize the risks, inform recipients of those risks, and allocate these higher risk organs to appropriate candidates. Towards this goal, we need to determine the safety and potential consequences, if any, of utilizing hepatitis C (HCV) antibody-positive donors in HCV infected recipients. To further characterize HCV antibody-positive donors, we analyzed prospectively collected serum samples from HCV antibody-positive donors transplanted into HCV RNA-positive recipients from 5/1993 to 10/2008 for HCV viral load (Roche Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas Taqman HCV Assay) and genotype (Siemens Versant 2.0 LiPA HCV 5' UTR/Core Assay). Seventeen of 32 (53%) HCV antibody-positive donors were RNA negative. Fifteen patients received an HCV RNA-positive donor and nine donor-recipient pairs had different genotypes or subtypes for analysis. When genotype 1 competed with a non-1 genotype, it was found in 5/6 recipients. In 2/3 cases of mismatched genotype 1 subtypes, genotype 1a dominated. Kaplan-Meier analysis of patient and graft survival and fibrosis progression did not reveal differences between patients who received an HCV antibody-positive donor that was viremic or aviremic. In conclusion, approximately half of HCV antibody-positive donors were aviremic. Viral dominance in viremic donor-recipient pairs seems virally determined.