Donor hepatitis C status is not associated with an increased risk of acute rejection in kidney transplantation

John C. Johnson, Trine Engebretsen, Muhammad Mujtaba, Heather L. Stevenson, Rupak Kulkarni, A. Scott Lea, Akshata Moghe, Syed Hussain, Michael Kueht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In renal transplantation, donor hepatitis C virus (HCV) status is crucial to consider when selecting a recipient given the high likelihood of transmission. We analyzed the effect of donor HCV status on post-renal transplant rejection and virologic infectious outcomes using electronic health record data from multiple US health care organizations. Methods: Using real world data from electronic health records of renal transplant recipients, a propensity score-matched case-control study of one-year renal transplant outcomes was conducted on cohorts of HCV-negative recipients who received an organ from an HCV-positive donor (HCV D+/R-) versus from an HCV-negative donor (HCV D-/R-). Donor HCV positivity was defined as new recipient HCV positivity within 30 days post-transplant. Cohorts were matched by major risk factors for rejection including age, gender, race, etiologies of end-stage renal disease, dialysis dependence, donor type, induction immunosuppression, and virologic lab studies. The primary outcome was one-year incidence of rejection. Secondary outcomes included longitudinal measures of liver and kidney function, incidence of non-HCV viremia, and DAA treatment pathways and responses. Results: Data from 900 renal transplant recipients were analyzed, 450 subjects per group (D+/R-, D-/R-). Mean age at transplant was 57.1 ± 11.9 years, 60 % were male, and 38 % were African American. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a significantly increased incidence of one-year rejection for HCV D-/R- compared to HCV D+/R- (16.6% vs 22.8 %, p = 0.02). This difference did not persist on a sub-analysis excluding subjects with delayed graft function (DGF) (16.3% vs 19.2 %, p = 0.25). Although mean eGFR was initially higher in HCV D+/R-, there were no significant differences in liver or kidney allograft function at 12 months. There was no significant difference for composite viremia (CMV/EBV/BK; 37.66% vs 31.60 %, p = 0.07). The most common DAA regimen was glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (52.8 %). DAA treatment responses were excellent, with most subjects having a negative viral load by 90 days (mean: 1.7 ± 1.9 log units/mL). Conclusion: Donor HCV positivity did not negatively impact one-year rejection outcomes post-renal transplantation. Importantly, this effect was not biased by age. Anti-HCV treatment was effective and liver and kidney function were excellent at one-year post-transplant. These data support the continued expansion of the donor pool by utilizing organs from HCV-positive donors in the era of anti-HCV direct-acting antiviral therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100236
JournalSurgery in Practice and Science
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • BK virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Hepatitis C
  • Kidney
  • Rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Urology
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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