Tuberculosis in Liver Transplant Recipients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Individual Patient Data

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Liver Transplantation, Vol. 15, page(s): 894-906


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Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) causes substantial morbidity and mortality in liver transplant recipients. We examined the efficacy of isoniazid latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI) treatment in liver transplant recipients and reviewed systematically all cases of active MTB infection in this population. We found 7 studies that evaluated LTBI treatment and 139 cases of active MTB infection in liver transplant recipients. Isoniazid LTBI treatment was associated with reduced MTB reactivation in transplant patients with latent MTB risk factors (0.0% versus 8.2%, P = 0.02), and isoniazid-related hepatotoxicity occurred in 6% of treated patients, with no reported deaths. The prevalence of active MTB infection in transplant recipients was 1.3%. Nearly half of all recipients with active MTB infection had an identifiable pretransplant MTB risk factor. Among recipients who developed active MTB infection, extrapulmonary involvement was common (67%), including multiorgan disease (27%). The short-term mortality rate was 31%. Surviving patients were more likely to have received 3 or more drugs for MTB induction therapy (P = 0.003) and to have been diagnosed within 1 month of symptom onset (P = 0.01) and were less likely to have multiorgan disease (P = 0.01) or to have experienced episodes of acute transplant rejection (P = 0.02). Compared with the general population, liver transplant recipients have an 18-fold increase in the prevalence of active MTB infection and a 4-fold increase in the case-fatality rate. For high-risk transplant candidates, isoniazid appears safe and is probably effective at reducing MTB reactivation. All liver transplant candidates should receive a tuberculin skin test, and isoniazid LTBI treatment should be given to patients with a positive skin test result or MTB pretransplant risk factors, barring a specific contraindication.

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