Morphologic features resembling transplant rejection in core biopsies of native livers from patients with Hepatitis C

Pablo Souza, Thomas J. Prihoda, Anastacio M. Hoyumpa, Francis E. Sharkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Morphologic differentiation of recurrent Hepatitis C from transplant rejection is a major problem in posttransplant liver biopsies. Although biopsies of the native livers from patients with Hepatitis C are known to display bile duct damage, other morphologic features similar to those seen in rejection, such as endotheliitis, portal eosinophils, and pericentral fibrosis, are not generally acknowledged. To determine the frequency with which features morphologically similar to rejection might be present, we examined 50 cases of core-needle biopsy from the native livers of patients with Hepatitis C for the presence of the following: bile duct damage, portal eosinophils, portal or central vein endotheliitis, ductopenia, vascular obliteration, pericentral fibrosis, and pericentral mononuclear cell infiltrate. Biopsy specimens with other concurrent disease processes were excluded. The frequency of each morphologic feature was as follows: bile duct damage (30%), portal eosinophils (42%), portal endotheliitis (20%), central vein endotheliitis (0%), pericentral mononuclear cell infiltrate (14%), ductopenia (2%), atrophic-looking bile ducts (2%), vascular obliteration (0%), and pericentral fibrosis (10%). Bile duct damage and portal endotheliitis were both more common with higher grade hepatitis (Fisher exact test, P = .001). None of the morphologic parameters correlated with biopsy stage, viral genotype, or liver function tests. We conclude that features similar to those found in acute rejection are common in Hepatitis C, whereas features resembling chronic rejection are less frequent. This study provides quantitative data that supports the need to interpret these features with great caution in posttransplant liver biopsies from patients with recurrent Hepatitis C who are suspected of rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-97
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Hepatitis C
  • Immunologic rejection
  • Liver transplantation
  • Viral hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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