Short Course of Postoperative Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin Plus Antivirals Prevents Reinfection of Liver Transplant Recipients

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Abstract

Background

Hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) has been an integral component of prophylaxis against hepatitis B virus (HBV) recurrence in liver transplantation (LT) recipients, but HBIG is costly and inconvenient to administer, prompting consideration of alternative regimens.

Methods

In this retrospective cohort, we report on the success of antiviral therapy combined with a short course (in hospital only) HBIG in liver transplant recipients with HBV DNA less than 100 IU/mL pre-LT.

Results

A total of 42 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive, human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis D virus–negative patients with pretransplant HBV DNA undetectable to 100 IU/mL who received HBIG 5000 IU in anhepatic phase and daily for 5 days together with nucleos(t)ide analogues indefinitely yielded 1- and 3-year cumulative incidences of recurrence, defined by positive serum HBsAg, of 2.9% (upper 95% confidence interval, 19%). One patient had HBV viremia 16 months post-LT without detectable HBsAg. Both patients with either HBsAg positivity or viremia had recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosed within a month of detection. Post-LT survival was 98% and 94% at 1 and 5 years, respectively.

Conclusions

We conclude that a very short course of HBIG combined with long-term antiviral therapy is highly effective in preventing HBV recurrence and should be the preferred strategy for LT recipients with undetectable or low-level viremia at time of LT.

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