Regression of fibrosis and portal hypertension in HCV-associated cirrhosis and sustained virologic response after interferon-free antiviral therapy

2016 Journal of viral hepatitis 23;12 (994-1002)

It is still controversial, whether and to what amount cirrhosis and portal hypertension are reversible in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated cirrhosis and sustained virologic response (SVR) after interferon-free antiviral therapy. In this study, we prospectively evaluated dynamics of liver and spleen stiffness in HCV-infected patients with advanced liver disease and SVR after interferon-free treatment. A total of 54 patients with HCV-associated cirrhosis and SVR were included. Liver and spleen stiffness was measured at therapy baseline (BL), end of treatment (EOT) and 24 weeks after EOT (FU24) by transient liver elastography (L-TE) as well as by acoustic radiation force impulse of the liver (L-ARFI) and spleen (S-ARFI), as well as biochemical, virologic and clinical data. Improvement of liver and spleen stiffness was found in 44 of 50 (88%), 31 of 54 (57%) and 25 of 54 (46%) of patients assessed by L-TE, L-ARFI and S-ARFI between baseline and FU24. Liver stiffness assessed by L-TE improved between BL [median (range), 32.5 (9.1-75) kPa] and EOT [median (range), 21.3 (6.7-73.5) kPa; (P<.0001)], and between BL and FU24 [median (range), 21.2 (5.4-70) kPa; (P<.0001)]. Liver stiffness assessed by L-ARFI improved between BL [median (range), 2.7 (1.2-4.1) m/s] and FU24 [median (range), 2.4 (1.2-3.9) m/s; P=.002), while spleen stiffness remained unchanged. Our data suggest that improvement of liver stiffness may be rather due to reduced necroinflammation and may be due to a less extent to regression of cirrhosis, as dynamics of liver stiffness improvement was more pronounced between BL and EOT than BL and FU24.