Hepatitis in patients with end-stage renal disease


Dr Chiu-Ching Huang, Division of Nephrology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 5 Fu Shing Street, Kwei Shang, Taoyuan, Taiwan.




Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are two common pathogens causing chronic hepatitis in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). With the acceptance of hepatitis B s antigen (HBsAg) screening, infected patients have been identified and isolated over the past 20 years. Consequently, hepatitis B is now being seen less frequently in dialysis units. Even though hepatitis B has become less of a problem, non-A, non-B hepatitis has been recognized as a sigmlicant problem since 1979. With the availability of serological testing for hepatitis C virus (HCV), more specific information is now available in regard to HCV infection in dialysis patients. The prevalence of anti-HCV in haemodialysis (HD) patients is quite variable, ranging from 5 to over 50%. Anti-HCV positivity is associated with previous blood transfusions, mode of therapy and duration of haemodialysis. In Spain and Italy, the annual seroconversion rates of HCV antibodies in dialysis patients are 2–9%; this rate was much higher in Taiwan (15%). Whether patients with HCV infection should be identified and isolated during HD treatment is an issue of controversy. Transplantation is associated with increases in hepatitis B virus (HBV) replicative markers. The survival disadvantage in HBsAg-positive recipients usually did not become apparent until 8 years after transplantation. Hepatitis C virus-infected renal transplant recipients are presumably in a similar situation to patients with hepatitis B, although confirmatory data are currently lacking. Coinfection of HBV and HCV may lead to aggressive liver disease and cirrhosis. A hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all susceptible dialysis patients. Dialysis patients have lower response rates to hepatius B vaccines than do other people. Currently, no vaccine is available for hepatitis C. To date, there are no effective treatments available for hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Combination therapy with interferodlamivudine for hepatitis B and interferodribavirin for hepatitis C may offer a promise of effective control of viral replication in the future.