De novo acute hepatitis B infection in a previously vaccinated liver transplant recipient due to a strain of HBV with a Met 133 Thr mutation in the “a” determinant


Eric M. Yoshida MD FRCPC, Division of Gastroenterology, Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Center, 100-2647 Willow Street, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 3P1, Canada.
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Abstract:De novo HBV infection post-liver transplantation (LT) from an anti-HBc seropositive donor rarely presents as acute failure. We report a 42-year-old Caucasian female, HBsAg and anti-HBc seronegative, with primary biliary cirrhosis who received an allograft from a HBsAg negative, anti-HBc seropositive donor. The patient, previously vaccinated years pre-LT, was re-vaccinated against HBV and 1 year post-LT had an anti-HBs titre of 256 IU/l. Two years post-LT, elevated serum aminotransferases and worsening liver function with an INR of 2.0 developed. The HBsAg became positive, anti-HBs undetectable and serum HBV-DNA >2000 pg/ml by hybridisation assay. Liver biopsy revealed significant ballooning degeneration, piecemeal necrosis and positive immunostaining for HBsAg. Progressive liver failure developed followed by sepsis and terminal multi-organ failure. Subsequent analysis of the predominant HBV strain revealed mutations in the “a” determinant: Met 133 Thr (codon change ATG to ACG) and Asn 131 Thr. Conclusion: Acute de novo HBV infection from an anti-HBc sero-positive donor may occur long after LT despite protective anti-HBs titres post-vaccination secondary to the emergence of “a” determinant mutated strains of HBV.