Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Reactivation in Patients Receiving Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-Targeted Therapy: Analysis of 257 Cases


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Abstract

The emergence of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-targeted therapies as a key therapeutic option for patients with rheumatic, digestive, and dermatologic autoimmune diseases has been associated with increasing reports of liver damage in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. We studied the current evidence on the use of anti-TNF agents in patients with HBV through a systematic analysis of cases reported in the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases using the MeSH term "hepatitis B virus" combined with the terms "infliximab," "etanercept," "adalimumab," "certolizumab," "golimumab," and "anti-TNF agents," and summarize the results here. We analyzed 257 patients with positive HBV markers who received anti-TNF therapy (255 identified in the search strategy and 2 new cases), 89 HBsAg+ carriers, and 168 anti-HBc+ persons. HBV reactivation was reported in 35 (39%) HBsAg+ carriers. The percentage of reactivation was higher in patients previously treated with immunosuppressive agents (96% vs. 70%, p = 0.033) and lower in those who received antiviral prophylaxis (23% vs. 62%, p = 0.003). Acute liver failure was reported in 5 patients, 4 of whom died. Infliximab was associated with a higher rate of induced liver disease (raised transaminase levels, clinical signs, viral reactivation, and acute liver failure) compared with etanercept. In anti-HBc+ persons, reactivation was reported in 9 (5%) cases, including 1 patient who died due to fulminant liver failure.In summary, our search of the current evidence identified 257 reported HBV+ patients treated with anti-TNF agents, with a significant percentage of liver damage in HBsAg+ carriers, including raised transaminase levels (42%), signs and symptoms of liver disease (16%), reappearance of serum HBV-DNA (39%), and death related to liver failure (5%). The rate of reactivation in anti-HBc+ persons was 7-fold lower than in HBsAg+ carriers. The increasing number of reported cases of HBV reactivation following TNF-targeted therapies and the associated morbidity and mortality demand specific preventive strategies.

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