Low prevalence of occult hepatitis B virus infection in chronic haemodialysis and kidney transplant patients

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BackgroundOccult hepatitis B virus infection (OBI) is defined as the presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in serum and/or liver in HBsAg-negative patients. We investigated the prevalence of OBI in large chronic haemodialysis (CHD) and kidney transplant recipients (KTxR) cohorts, including determination of HBV DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).MethodsHBV DNA was determined in both serum and PBMCs in 417 CHD patients, 417 KTxR, 20 HBsAg-positive non-CHD non-KTx patients (positive controls) and 40 HBsAg-negative healthy subjects (negative controls).ResultsChronic haemodialysis group: two of 376 patients were HBsAg-positive. The 374 HBsAg-negative patients tested negative for HBV DNA in both serum and PBMCs. KTxR group: 14 of 417 patients were HBsAg-positive. One of 403 HBsAg-negative patients tested positive for HBV DNA in serum but not in PBMCs. Positive controls: six of 20 patients were under antiviral therapy and had negative HBV DNA in both serum and PBMCs. In 11 of 14 remaining patients, HBV DNA was detected in serum and in both serum and PBMCs in 3 patients. Negative controls: All 34 patients were anti-HBc-negative and HBV DNA-negative in both serum and PBMCs. In the long term, the only case of anti-HBc-negative OBI lost anti-HBs 5 years after inclusion in the study and showed HBV reactivation with HBsAg re-seroconversion.ConclusionsWe found nil prevalence of OBI in CHD patients and a very low prevalence (<1%) in KTxR suggesting that routine screening for HBV DNA is not required in CHD population in our region. However, in KTxR, pretransplant screening with HBV DNA should be considered. Testing for HBV DNA in PBMCs does not seem to be of additional value.

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