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Reuters Health Information (2005-10-21): Stellate cells predict transplanted liver cirrhosis risk


Stellate cells predict transplanted liver cirrhosis risk

Last Updated: 2005-10-21 12:26:17 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Early hepatic stellate cell activation is associated with advanced fibrosis after liver transplantation in recipients with hepatitis C, researchers report in the October 10th issue of Liver Transplantation.

"Findings from our study," lead author Dr. Mark W. Russo told Reuters Health, "suggest that a novel way to determine if liver transplant recipients with hepatitis C are at risk for developing cirrhosis is to measure the activity of the hepatic stellate cells, the main source of scar formation in the liver."

Dr. Russo of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and colleagues note that over a 2-year period as many as 20% of such recipients will develop bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis.

To develop a marker that might help predict this outcome, and thus identify patients who might benefit from early antiviral therapy, the researchers studied liver biopsies from 21 transplanted patients who had developed such fibrosis and another 25 who had not.

The team paid particular attention to hepatic stellate cells. Hepatic stellate cell activation is the earliest step in hepatic fibrogenesis, preceding collagen deposition and may result in progressive fibrosis.

Hepatic stellate activity was indeed independently associated with rapid fibrosis (odds ratio, 1.6) and, say the researchers, it complements other histologic findings.

"Our results," concluded Dr. Russo, "provide the rationale for conducting a larger, prospective study of hepatic stellate cell activity in liver transplant recipients with chronic hepatitis C."

Liver Transpl 2005;11:1235-1241.

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