Limited efficacy of lamivudine against hepatitis B virus infection in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients

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Reactivation of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major complication when HBV carriers receive immunosuppressive therapy. Recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) carry the highest risk of fatal HBV disease (up to 12%).


In an attempt to identify a suitable procedure for the prevention and management of HBV reactivation, the administration of lamivudine over the course was tested in two patients.


Generally, the patients transplant courses were successfully managed despite their difficult clinical situations: a high HBV load before transplant in one patient and intense steroid therapy for complicated acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in the other patient. However, one patient showed a reactivation of HBV after discontinuing lamivudine and the other showed persistently high DNA polymerase activity despite prolonged administration of lamivudine.


We concluded that lamivudine could have a place in the management of patients who suffer from chronic HBV infection and who are undergoing allogeneic HSCT. However, the efficacy of lamivudine seemed to be limited compared with other settings, including solid organ transplantation and autologous HSCT.

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