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Lamivudine treatment for hepatitis B reactivation in HBsAg carriers after organ transplantation: A 4-year experience


Prof. M-Y Lai, Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, 1 Chang-Te Street, Taipei 100, Taiwan. Email:


Background: Reactivation of hepatitis B after organ transplantation in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers may be fatal. In this study, we reported our experience of lamivudine treatment in HBsAg carriers who had post-transplant reactivation of hepatitis B.

Methods: The patients were 15 men and one woman. Nine received kidney transplants, six received heart transplants, and one received a lung transplant. They developed a reactivation of hepatitis B 1–101 months (median, 14 months) after transplantation. They received lamivudine 100 mg daily on a compassionate-use basis, and had regular follow ups. The median pretreatment total serum bilirubin level was 3.0 mg/dL, and the alanine aminotransferase level was 357 U/L. Four of the 16 patients were positive for HBeAg. The serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA levels were > 3000 pg/mL in 13 (81%) patients. Three were coinfected with hepatitis C virus.

Results: The overall survival rate was 75%. All four fatal cases had a pretreatment total serum bilirubin level of ≥ 3 mg/dL. Serum HBV-DNA soon became undetectable in 12 survivors. Of the 12 survivors, after a median treatment period of 101 weeks, a lamivudine-resistant strain with variation in the YMDD motif of the HBV polymerase gene developed in three (25%). None had significant adverse reactions to lamivudine treatment.

Conclusions: These results indicated that lamivudine is effective in the treatment of post-transplant hepatitis B reactivation, including patients with dual chronic hepatitis B and C. Early recognition of HBV reactivation and prompt lamivudine treatment are important to prevent mortality.