Changing trends in liver transplantation indications in Saudi Arabia: from hepatitis C virus infection to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Saleh A. Alqahtani, Dieter C. Broering, Saad A. Alghamdi, Khalid I. Bzeizi, Noara Alhusseini, Saleh I. Alabbad, Ali Albenmousa, Nasreen Alfaris, Faisal Abaalkhail, Waleed K. Al-hamoudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Several trend analyses on liver transplantation (LT) indications have been published in the U.S. and in other countries, but there are limited data on LT indication trends in Saudi Arabia (SA), especially since the availability of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV). This study aimed to analyze trends in the frequency of LT indications among LT recipients in SA over a 19-year period and examine associations between etiologic-specific trends and clinicodemographic characteristics. Methods: This retrospective study analyzed clinical and surgical data of adult patients (n = 1009) who underwent LT at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (Riyadh, SA) between 2001 and 2019. Spearman’s rank correlation, Poisson regression, and Joinpoint regression analysis were employed to assess changes in LT etiologic trends. Results: In the first period (2001–2010), the main LT indications were HCV (41.9%) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) (21.1%), but nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) (29.7%) surpassed HCV (23.7%) as the leading LT indication in the second period (2011–2019); and the trends were significant in correlation analyses [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.09 (1.06–1.13) for NASH; IRR = 0.93 (0.91–0.95) for HCV]. In the Joinpoint regression analysis, increases in NASH from 2006 to 2012 (+ 32.1%) were statistically significant, as were the decreases in HCV from 2004 to 2007 (− 19.6%) and from 2010 to 2019 (− 12.1%). Similar patterns were observed in LT etiological comparisons before and after the availability of DAAs and within hepatocellular carcinoma stratifications. Conclusions: Trends in the epidemiology of LT indications among LT recipients in SA have changed over a 19-year period. Most notably, NASH has eclipsed HCV in the country due to the effective treatment strategies for HCV. These trends in NASH now need an aggressive public health response to minimize and avert future onset of additional clinical and economic strains on health care systems and LT centers in SA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number245
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Liver disease
  • Liver transplantation
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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