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ROCHESTER, Minn., Oct 3, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Two studies on Hepatitis C liver transplant patients examined a potential biomarker that could be used to predict who might develop hepatic fibrosis.
The studies found that changes in a certain type of liver cell were useful in determining those who were at the greatest risk for developing this serious complication.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and recurrence of the disease following transplant is a serious problem. It is estimated up to 20 percent of HCV patients will develop fibrosis or cirrhosis within two years of undergoing a transplant. Antiviral therapy is not highly effective in transplant patients and poses additional problems for these individuals, who may have difficulty tolerating the potent drugs it involves.
However, antiviral therapy might be useful for those patients likely to develop fibrosis, if they could somehow be identified. Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) normally store vitamin A in the liver, but in HCV patients these cells produce collagen and other proteins that can lead to fibrosis.
The results of the studies appear in the October issue of Liver Transplantation.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International