There is scarce available evidence on the distribution over time of liver complications emergence in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients who achieve sustained virological response (SVR) with direct-acting antiviral (DAA)-based therapy. Therefore, we aimed at describing the kinetics of liver-related events appearance in this setting.
A multicentric prospective cohort study.
HCV-monoinfected and HIV/HCV-coinfected patients from GEHEP-011 cohort, whose inclusion criteria were had achieved SVR with DAA-based therapy; liver stiffness prior to starting treatment at least 9.5 kPa; and available liver stiffness measurement at SVR. SVR was considered as the baseline time-point.
One thousand and thirty-five patients were included, 664 (64%) coinfected with HIV. Before DAA-based therapy, 63 (6.1%) individuals showed decompensated cirrhosis. After SVR, 51 (4.9%) patients developed liver complications. Median (Q1-Q3) time to the emergence of hepatic events was hepatic encephalopathy 11 (7–24) months, ascites 14 (6–29) months, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 17 (11–42) months and portal hypertension gastrointestinal bleeding (PHGB) 28 (22–38) months (P = 0.152). We define two profiles of liver complications: those emerging earlier (encephalopathy and ascites) and, those occurring continuously during the follow-up (HCC, PHGB) [median (Q1-Q3) time to emergence 12.7 (6.6–28.2) months vs. 25.4 (12.5–41.53) months, respectively (P = 0.026)].
The vast majority of HCV-infected patients who develop liver complications after reaching SVR with DAA do it within 3 years after SVR time-point. Specifically, hepatic encephalopathy and ascites do not usually emerge after this period. Conversely, HCC and PHGB may occur in longer term. It is critical to identify patients at risk of developing hepatic events to continue performing surveillance for them.