Recurrence of hepatitis B is associated with cumulative corticosteroid dose and chemotherapy against hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence after liver transplantation



The incidence of hepatitis B (HB) recurrence after a liver transplantation has been reduced by prophylaxis with hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) and lamivudine. However, the long-term incidence of recurrence is <10%, and the factors associated with HB recurrence are unclear. This study analyzed the factors associated with HB recurrence in 203 recipients who underwent liver transplantation for HB in 3 major centers in Korea over 4 years. Eighty-five patients (41.9%) had a hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Preoperative active virus replicators with the HBeAg(+) (46.8%) and/or hepatitis B virus DNA(+) (39.4%) were observed in 136 patients (67.0%). The HB prophylaxis consisted of either HBIG monotherapy (n = 95, HBIG group) or combination therapy with lamivudine (n = 108, combination group). HB recurrence was defined as the appearance of the HBsAg. The follow-up period was 28.3 ± 13.1 months (mean ± SD). HB recurred in 21 patients (10.3%) after transplantation. The time from transplantation to recurrence was 16.3 ± 9.4 months. Pre-LT DNA positivity was more prevalent in HBIG group (55.8%) than in the combination group (39.8%) (P = 0.015). However, the incidence of HB recurrence was similar in the HBIG (6.3%) and combination group (13.8%), as well as between the active replicators (12.5%) and nonreplicators (4.1%) (P < 0.05). There was a far higher incidence of HB recurrence in patients receiving corticosteroid pulse therapy (21.0% vs. 7.9%), patients who experienced HCC recurrence (31.3% vs. 8.6%), and patients receiving chemotherapy to prevent HCC recurrence (25.0% vs. 4.4%) (P < 0.05). The cumulative corticosteroid dose was higher in patients who experienced recurrence of HB (P = 0.002). Multivariable analysis confirmed the effect of the cumulative corticosteroid dose and chemotherapy to be risk factors. Liver transplantation for HB is safe, with low recurrence rates if adequate prophylaxis is used. However, the cumulative corticosteroid dose and the chemotherapy used for HCC were risk factors for HB recurrence, so careful monitoring for HB recurrence is needed in these patients. Liver Transpl 13:451–458, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.