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Management of hepatitis B in liver transplant recipients


  • Present address: Dr Carla S. Coffin, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Norah Terrault MD, MPH, Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Ave, S357, Box 0538, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. E-mail:


Summary.  Advances in hepatitis B virus (HBV) antiviral prophylaxis have dramatically improved graft and patient survival for patients undergoing liver transplantation for hepatitis B related end-stage liver disease. In particular, the availability of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIg) in combination with nucleos(t)ide analogues such as lamivudine and adefovir, have transformed outcomes. The availability of newer antivirals such as adefovir, tenofovir and entecavir either as monotherapy or in combination offer an increasing number of antiviral options. Despite these advances, significant challenges remain. Factors that affect the efficacy of anti-viral therapy include detectable HBV viraemia at the time of transplant and emergence of HBV mutants (especially in patients with prior exposure to lamivudine). HBV prophylaxis protocols are expensive especially with use of high-dose HBIg and newer nucleos(t)ide analogues. This review summarizes current HBV prophylaxis protocols and management of recurrent disease post-transplantation. There is an increasing need for individualization of therapy based on prior drug exposures, level of HBV DNA at time of transplantation and type of prophylaxis used.