Involvement of the fas system in hepatitis C virus recurrence after liver transplantation.Liver Transpl. 2000 Sep; 6(5):562-9.LT
To date, there have been no reports of the involvement of the Fas system in recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). In 25 patients who underwent OLT for HCV-related liver cirrhosis, we evaluated the expression of the Fas antigen (FasAg) on hepatocytes, apoptic hepatocytes, and serum levels of soluble Fas (sFas). The level of HCV viremia and HCV genotype were determined by polymerase chain reaction. Serum sFas levels were determined by an enzyme immunoassay procedure. DNA fragmentation was determined by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end-labeling (TUNEL) technique on deparaffinized liver samples. FasAg expression was evaluated by an immunoperoxidase method. Sixteen patients had evidence of recurrent HCV disease. The number of hepatocytes expressing FasAg and the percentage of apoptotic hepatocytes was greater among patients who developed recurrent hepatitis than among those who did not (P <.01 and P <.0001, respectively). There was a correlation between hepatic expression of FasAg, intensity of lobular inflammation (P =.007), and TUNEL index (P <.001). The levels of sFas were greater among the patients with recurrent HCV hepatitis than those without recurrent hepatitis (P <.04). We conclude that (1) Fas expression is up-regulated in recurrent HCV after OLT and is related to the grading of liver disease; likewise, levels of sFas were greater in the patients with recurrent HCV hepatitis; and (2) the demonstration of hepatocytes with FasAg expression and the labeling of the nuclei by TUNEL assay suggest that hepatic apoptosis mediated by the Fas system may have a role in the pathogenesis of recurrent HCV hepatitis after OLT.