Background: The distinction between acute rejection and early recurrent hepatitis C infection (RHCV) in the setting of orthotopic liver transplantation is often difficult. In liver biopsies acidophil bodies and lobular hepatitis are used to suggest a diagnosis of RHCV over rejection, however, the reliability of this practice has not been established. Because portal tract changes in RHCV and rejection often overlap, we sought to determine whether the degree of hepatocyte acidophil body formation seen on liver biopsies could be used to distinguish between these two conditions. Methods: Quantification of acidophil bodies was performed on liver biopsies in orthotopic liver transplant patients with RHCV (n = 10), non-hepatitis C orthotopic liver transplant patients with uncomplicated rejection episodes (n = 10) and non-transplant patients with chronic hepatitis C infection (n = 10). Hematoxylin and Eosin stained slides from all three groups were randomized and tissue segments 1.0 cm in length and of variable width (0.04-0.13 cm) were examined at 200 x magnification in a blinded fashion by two pathologists in order to quantify the number of acidophil bodies/cm2. Lobular chronic inflammation was also graded on a 0-3+ scale. Results: Liver biopsies taken at the onset of RHCV exhibited 606 ± 101 acidophil bodies/cm2 (mean ± standard error of mean, range 200-1390). These counts were significantly greater (P =. 0061, paired 2-tailed t-test) than the 241 ± 53 acidophil bodies/cm2 (range 80-514) for acute rejection, and the 194 ± 21 acidophil bodies/cm2 (range 100-333) for non-liver transplant chronic hepatitis C infection (P =. 0013). No difference in lobular inflammation between index RHCV and rejection biopsies was detected. Conclusions: Although there is overlap, on average there are twice as many acidophil bodies in the initial stage of RHCV when compared with acute rejection (average of 55 per linear cm in RHCV versus 21 per linear cm for rejection). Lobular inflammation was not a reliable indicator of the initial onset of RHCV.
- Acidophil bodies
- Liver transplant
- Recurrent hepatitis c
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine