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Keywords:

  • antibody-positive donors;
  • hepatitis B core;
  • hepatitis B;
  • lamivudine;
  • liver transplantation

Abstract:  Background:  Liver transplantation from hepatitis B core-antibody (HBcAb)-positive donors to hepatitis B surface-antigen (HBsAg)-negative recipients has been associated with a risk of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the absence of antiviral prophylaxis. The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of long-term lamivudine monotherapy to prevent development of HBV infection in HBsAg-negative recipients of liver allografts from HBcAb-positive donors.

Methods:  From 315 cadaveric adult liver transplantations performed at our unit between July 1999 and March 2005, 18 recipients (5.7%) received liver allografts from HBcAb-positive donors, 13 of whom were HBsAg-negative pre-transplantation. The recipients consisted of four females and 14 males, age range 28–65 yr (median 49.5 yr). Post-transplantation, HBsAg-negative recipients were administered lamivudine 100 mg daily long term. HBsAg-positive recipients were administered low-dose hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIg) and lamivudine according to our usual protocol. Standard post-transplantation immunosuppression was given. Recipients were followed up regularly (range 2–69 months, median 21 months) for development of de novo HBV infection.

Results:  Ten HBsAg-negative recipients received long-term lamivudine. One patient (HBcAb and HBsAb positive pre-transplant) did not receive lamivudine and, in two patients, lamivudine was discontinued following urgent re-transplantation for primary graft non-function. All 13 of the HBsAg-negative recipients were still alive, with no evidence of HBV infection at the end of follow-up.

Conclusion:  Long-term lamivudine monotherapy was effective in preventing development of HBV infection in HBsAg-negative liver transplant recipients from HBcAb-positive donors.