Objective The number of patients with HCV-related cirrhosis is increasing, leading to a rising risk of complications and death. Prognostic stratification in patients with early-stage cirrhosis is still challenging. We aimed to develop and validate a clinically useful prognostic index based on genomic and clinical variables to identify patients at high risk of disease progression. Design We developed a prognostic index, comprised of a 186-gene signature validated in our previous genome-wide profiling study, bilirubin (>1 mg/dL) and platelet count (<100 000/mm3), in an Italian HCV cirrhosis cohort (training cohort, n=216, median follow-up 10 years). The gene signature test was implemented using a digital transcript counting (nCounter) assay specifically developed for clinical use and the prognostic index was evaluated using archived specimens from an independent cohort of HCV-related cirrhosis in the USA (validation cohort, n=145, median follow-up 8 years). Results In the training cohort, the prognostic index was associated with hepatic decompensation (HR=2.71, p=0.003), overall death (HR=6.00, p<0.001), hepatocellular carcinoma (HR=3.31, p=0.001) and progression of Child-Turcotte-Pugh class (HR=6.70, p<0.001). The patients in the validation cohort were stratified into high-risk (16%), intermediate-risk (42%) or low-risk (42%) groups by the prognostic index. The high-risk group had a significantly increased risk of hepatic decompensation (HR=7.36, p<0.001), overall death (HR=3.57, p=0.002), liver-related death (HR=6.49, p<0.001) and all liver-related adverse events (HR=4.98, p<0.001). Conclusions A genomic and clinical prognostic index readily available for clinical use was successfully validated, warranting further clinical evaluation for prognostic prediction and clinical trial stratification and enrichment for preventive interventions.
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