Effect of lamivudine treatment on survival of 309 North American patients awaiting liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis B



The primary aim of this study is to determine whether treatment with lamivudine improved pre–liver transplantation (pre-LT) and LT-free survival of patients awaiting LT for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related cirrhosis. Data from 162 lamivudine-treated and 147 untreated transplant candidates managed at 20 North American transplant centers between 1996 and 1998 were collected and compared. Lamivudine-treated patients were more likely to be men, hepatitis B e antigen positive, HBV DNA positive, and have lower serum albumin levels at listing (P < .05). Actuarial pre-LT and LT-free survival were similar in lamivudine-treated and untreated patients. Using Cox regression analysis, the only significant predictor of pre-LT patient survival was the modified Child-Turcotte-Pugh (mCTP) score, whereas significant predictors of LT-free survival included ethnic background, lamivudine treatment, indication for LT, baseline serum alanine aminotransferase level, and baseline mCTP score. Lamivudine had no apparent effect on liver disease severity in patients undergoing LT, but appeared to improve disease severity in patients still awaiting LT. Breakthrough infection was noted in 11% of lamivudine-treated patients. We conclude that lamivudine therapy is not associated with improved pre-LT or LT-free survival in LT candidates with chronic hepatitis B. However, a subset of patients with less advanced liver failure may derive clinical benefit from lamivudine therapy, thus delaying the need for LT. In the absence of prospective, randomized, controlled trials of lamivudine in patients with decompensated cirrhosis, careful selection of patients and optimal timing of treatment are needed to balance the risk versus benefit of lamivudine therapy in LT candidates.