Transplantation 2017 05;101(5):910-915
1 Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. 2 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects over 130 million individuals worldwide, and it is the number 1 reason for liver transplantation in the United States. HCV infection progresses in a slow chronic fashion eliciting a strong but ineffective immune response, mainly characterized by NK cell dysfunction and T cell exhaustion. The chronic hepatic inflammation leads to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and cancer in a significant number of patients. In recent years, groundbreaking research has led to the discovery of new HCV-specific direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), which have an unprecedented efficacy to clear the virus, and establish a sustained virological response. Indeed, curing HCV infection with an oral medication is now reality. The effects of DAAs in mitigating the HCV-related complications of liver fibrosis and cancer are yet largely unknown. Nonetheless, recent controversial reports suggest a potential increase in liver cancer recurrence upon use of DAAs. In the current article, we review the most important immune-mediated mechanisms underlying HCV chronicity and the development of liver fibrosis and cancer. Furthermore, we discuss recent concern on use of the new agents.