From the Journals

HCV+ kidney transplants: Similar outcomes to HCV- regardless of recipient serostatus



Kidneys from donors with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection function well despite adverse quality assessment and are a valuable resource for transplantation candidates independent of HCV status, according to the findings of a large U.S. registry study.

A 3D illustration of a human kidney cross section. Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen/Getty Images

A total of 260 HCV-viremic kidneys were transplanted in the first quarter of 2019, with 105 additional viremic kidneys being discarded, according to a report in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology by Vishnu S. Potluri, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues.

Donor HCV viremia was defined as an HCV nucleic acid test–positive result reported to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Donors who were HCV negative in this test were labeled as HCV nonviremic. Kidney transplantation recipients were defined as either HCV seropositive or seronegative based on HCV antibody testing.

During the first quarter of 2019, 74% of HCV-viremic kidneys were transplanted into seronegative recipients, which is a major change from how HCV-viremic kidneys were allocated a few years ago, according to the researchers. The results of small trials showing the benefits of such transplantations and the success of direct-acting antiviral therapy (DAA) on clearing HCV infections were indicated as likely responsible for the change.

HCV-viremic kidneys had similar function, compared with HCV-nonviremic kidneys, when matched on the donor elements included in the Kidney Profile Donor Index (KDPI), excluding HCV, they added. In addition, the 12-month estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was similar between the seropositive and seronegative recipients, respectively 65.4 and 71.1 mL/min per 1.73 m2 (P = .05), which suggests that recipient HCV serostatus does not negatively affect 1-year graft function using HCV-viremic kidneys in the era of DAA treatments, according to the authors.

Also, among HCV-seropositive recipients of HCV-viremic kidneys, seven (3.4%) died by 1 year post transplantation, while none of the HCV-seronegative recipients of HCV-viremic kidneys experienced graft failure or death.

“These striking results provide important additional evidence that the KDPI, with its current negative weighting for HCV status, does not accurately assess the quality of kidneys from HCV-viremic donors,” the authors wrote.

“HCV-viremic kidneys are a valuable resource for transplantation. Disincentives for accepting these organs should be addressed by the transplantation community,” Dr. Potluri and colleagues concluded.

This work was supported in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The various authors reported grant funding and advisory board participation with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

SOURCE: Potluri VS et al. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019;30:1939-51.

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