Aim: Recent randomized trials have failed to prove the benefit of steroid-free immunosuppression in liver transplantation for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis. Furthermore, there is a lack of data on the use of basiliximab in living donor liver transplantation (LDLT). This pilot study evaluated the safety and efficacy of a steroid minimization protocol using basiliximab compared with standard immunosuppression. Methods: A single center, prospective cohort analysis was conducted to compare two immunosuppression regimens in adult recipients who underwent LDLT for HCV since 2004: calcineurin inhibitor/mizoribine/basiliximab (the St- group) and calcineurin inhibitor/mizoribine/steroid (the St+ group). Study end-points were rejection rates, recurrent HCV, patient survival and other adverse events up to 2years after transplantation. Results: A total of 27 consecutive patients were enrolled. Transplantation characteristics were similar between the two groups (14 St- and 13 St+) except ABO incompatible cases being more common in the St+ group. Rejection rates, recurrent HCV, patient survival, fibrosis stage and new-onset diabetes mellitus at 2years were comparable between the two groups. ABO incompatibility did not affect short- and long-term outcomes. Nine St- and seven St+ recipients underwent interferon and ribavirin therapy for recurrent HCV, with a sustained virological response rate of 33% and 29%, respectively. Conclusion: A steroid minimization protocol with basiliximab in adult LDLT for HCV is safe and affords equivalent rejection rates compared with standard immunosuppression. However, no significant differences are observed with respect to recurrent HCV, patient survival and metabolic complications.
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