Hepatitis B: Progress in the last 15 years


  • Federico G. Villamil MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Hepatology and Liver Transplantation Unit, Fundacion Favaloro, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    • Hepatology and Liver Transplantation Unit, Fundacion Favaloro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Telephone: 54-11-4378-1366; FAX: 54-11-4378-1392
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  • 1Patients undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for hepatitis B without effective prophylaxis have a high risk for recurrent infection and severe graft damage, leading to death or re-OLT.
  • 2Long-term prophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIg) significantly reduces the risk for hepatitis B virus (HBV) recurrence and increases survival. Patients with detectable HBV DNA at the time of OLT have a high risk for recurrence despite HBIg prophylaxis.
  • 3Lamivudine (LAM) therapy for patients with decompensated HBV cirrhosis before OLT results in inhibition of viral replication and clinical improvement. Its efficacy is limited by the frequent emergence of LAM-resistant YMDD mutations. The ideal length of therapy with LAM pre-OLT has not yet been defined.
  • 4Prophylaxis of HBV recurrence with LAM monotherapy is not recommended because of the reappearance of hepatitis B surface antigen after OLT in approximately 50% of patients.
  • 5LAM is the best available treatment for patients with established recurrent hepatitis B. Long-term therapy is associated with the emergence of drug-resistant mutants in up to 60% of patients. Severe hepatitis and liver failure have been described among liver transplant recipients with YMDD mutations.
  • 6Combination therapy with HBIg and LAM prevents HBV recurrence in 90% to 100% of patients who undergo OLT for hepatitis B. The optimal HBIg protocol in the LAM era is yet to be defined.
  • 7Preliminary studies suggest that adefovir dipivoxil inhibits HBV replication in patients infected with LAM-resistant HBV strains.
  • 8Fifteen years ago, hepatitis B was regarded as a relative or absolute contraindication for OLT. Today, hepatitis B is a universally accepted indication for OLT.