Research Group

  • Dr Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Giuseppe Tisone, Research Associate
  • Dr Xavier Forns, Research Associate
  • Dr Francesc Borras, Research Associate
  • Mr Marc Martínez Llordella, Research Associate


  • Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain


  • Impact of Hepatitis C Virus Infection on the Acquisition of Tolerance after Liver Transplantation

The chronic use of immunosuppressive drugs in organ transplantation is associated with substantial side effects. For this reason, the achievement of tolerance (i.e. a state in which the organ is not rejected in the absence of immunosuppressive therapy) constitutes one of the priorities of research in transplantation. Based on experiments performed in experimental animal models, it has been hypothesized that the effects of past or present infections, particularly viral, in our immune system constitute one of the main barriers to the induction of transplantation tolerance. This hypothesis however, has not yet been directly tested in humans. Liver transplantation is a unique clinical setting to study this issue, since it is the only organ in which tolerance after transplantation occurs “spontaneously” in a substantial proportion of recipients (around 20%). In addition, almost 50% of liver recipients are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, a pathogen that causes liver inflammation and can thus interfere with the mechanisms responsible for tolerance acquisition. The current project aims to analyze blood and liver tissue samples from hepatitis C virus-infected liver transplant recipients in whom immunosuppressive drugs are being progressively discontinued as a strategy to minimize hepatitis C virus-induced liver damage. Our hypothesis is that the degree of inflammation caused by the virus will determine the likelihood of becoming tolerant (i.e. of being able to completely discontinue immunosuppressive therapy). We expect that our study will help us understand the effects of chronic viral infections on the acquisition of tolerance after organ transplantation. This will help clinicians decide in which patients immunosuppressive drugs can be safely discontinued and/or which therapies should be used in order to try to induce tolerance.

Progress Report
Final Report