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Occult hepatitis B virus infection in liver transplant recipients with recurrent hepatitis C: relationship with donor age and fibrosis progression


Pierluigi Toniutto, MD, Internal Medicine, Medical Liver Transplantation Unit, University of Udine, Piazzale S. M. della Misericordia 1, 33100 Udine, Italy.
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Abstract:  Liver transplantation (OLT) recipients who receive a graft from donors positive for hepatitis B virus (HBV) anti-core antibodies may develop overt “de novo” HBV infection. The study was undertaken to explore how often HBV infection may remain occult after OLT for hepatitis C, and whether it may represent a factor of graft fibrosis progression. We studied 30 consecutive patients transplanted for hepatitis C liver disease. Specimens from the native liver and from the graft were searched for occult HBV infection (O-HBV). In the native liver, 8/30 patients had detectable O-HBV; during the follow-up, O-HBV infection was demonstrated in 14 graft specimens. Graft O-HBV was associated with older donor age (≥50 yr; 8/9 vs. 6/21, p < 0.005). Recipients with graft O-HBV and no O-HBV in the native liver who received their grafts from donors aged >40 yr had faster fibrosis progression than recipients with no post-transplant O-HBV, whose grafts came from donors aged >40 yr and recipients whose grafts came from donors aged ≤40 yr (4/7 vs. 1/7 vs. 2/16, p < 0.05). In OLT recipients, O-HBV is more likely to occur when grafts are obtained from aged donors and may affect the rate of fibrosis progression because of recurrent hepatitis C.

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