Kidneys from donors with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are traditionally considered to be at risk for poorer survival outcomes, as reflected in the kidney donor profile index (KDPI). Modern direct-acting antivirals may modify this risk.
Using United Network for Organ Sharing data, HCV-infected adult first-time kidney transplant recipients from 2014 to 2017 were examined. Graft and patient survival were compared in a propensity-matched cohort of recipients of HCV antibody (Ab)(+) kidneys versus Ab(-) kidneys. Subsequent analysis was performed in a propensity-matched cohort of recipients of HCV-viremic (RNA positive) versus HCV-naïve kidneys.
There were 379 recipients each in the matched cohort of recipients of HCV Ab(+) versus HCV Ab(-) kidneys. Despite a higher KDPI (58.2% for HCV Ab[+] versus 38.8% for HCV Ab[-]), 1-year patient and graft survival were similar in the HCV(+) and HCV(-) groups (95.4% and 94.9% versus 97.9% and 96.0%, P = 0.543 and P = 0.834, respectively). There were 200 recipients each in the cohort of recipients of HCV-viremic versus HCV-naïve kidneys, with the KDPI again higher in the HCV-viremic group (56.8% versus 35.2%). Baseline hazard ratios (HRs) for graft failure (HR, 4.69; P = 0.009) and death (HR, 7.60; P = 0.003) were significantly elevated in the viremic group, but crossed 1 at 21 and 24 months, respectively.
In the modern direct-acting antiviral era, calculated likely KDPI overestimates risk kidneys from HCV (+) donors. Donor viremia conveys an early risk which appears to subside over time. These results suggest that it may be time to revise the kidney donor risk index.