Published online Jan 14, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i2.408
Peer-review started: July 1, 2014
First decision: July 21, 2014
Revised: September 7, 2014
Accepted: December 8, 2014
Article in press: December 8, 2014
Published online: January 14, 2015
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is highly prevalent among chronic kidney disease (CKD) subjects under hemodialysis and in kidney transplantation (KT) recipients, being an important cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. The vast majority of HCV chronic infections in the hemodialysis setting are currently attributable to nosocomial transmission. Acute and chronic hepatitis C exhibits distinct clinical and laboratorial features, which can impact on management and treatment decisions. In hemodialysis subjects, acute infections are usually asymptomatic and anicteric; since spontaneous viral clearance is very uncommon in this context, acute infections should be treated as soon as possible. In KT recipients, the occurrence of acute hepatitis C can have a more severe course, with a rapid progression of liver fibrosis. In these patients, it is recommended to use pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) in combination with ribavirin, with doses adjusted according to estimated glomerular filtration rate. There is no evidence suggesting that chronic hepatitis C exhibits a more aggressive course in CKD subjects under conservative management. In these subjects, indication of treatment with PEG-IFN plus ribavirin relies on the CKD stage, rate of progression of renal dysfunction and the possibility of a preemptive transplant. HCV infection has been associated with both liver disease-related deaths and cardiovascular mortality in hemodialysis patients. Among those individuals, low HCV viral loads and the phenomenon of intermittent HCV viremia are often observed, and sequential HCV RNA monitoring is needed. Despite the poor tolerability and suboptimal efficacy of antiviral therapy in CKD patients, many patients can achieve sustained virological response, which improve patient and graft outcomes. Hepatitis C eradication before KT theoretically improves survival and reduces the occurrence of chronic graft nephropathy, de novo glomerulonephritis and post-transplant diabetes mellitus.
Core tip: In this review, we discuss the most recent and relevant literature regarding diagnostic aspects, clinical features, outcomes and therapy of chronic hepatitis C in subjects with chronic kidney disease, in the context of conservative management, hemodialysis, and kidney transplantation. In addition, antiviral regimens are summarized and treatment algorithms are proposed.