Hepatitis B virus reactivation in hepatocellular carcinoma patients undergoing transcatheter arterial chemoembolization therapy


  • Conflict of interest statement: None declared.

  • Financial disclosure: None declared.

Dr Gui-Nan Lin MD, Department of Medical Oncology, Zhongshan Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Zhongshan City People's Hospital, 2 Sunwen Road East, Zhongshan 528403, China. Email: lgn83@163.com


Aim:  The effect of transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) therapy on hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients with prior resolved hepatitis B is not fully understood.

Methods:  From January 2006 to December 2010, 43 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative/anti-hepatitis B core antigen (HBc) positive patients with newly diagnosed unresectable HCC were enrolled in the study. All underwent TACE therapy.

Results:  Four patients (9.3%) developed HBV reactivation with mild/moderate hepatitis. The median number of TACE cycles received was 3.5 (range 3–4 cycles). The median time interval between the occurrence of HBV reactivation and the completion of TACE therapy was 3 months (range 1–5 months) and their median HBV DNA level was 1.58 × 104 IU/mL (range, 1.65 × 103–6.42 × 104 IU/mL). After the introduction of lamivudine at the occurrence of HBV reactivation, all had resolution of hepatitis. An exploratory analysis indicated that significant predictors of HBV reactivation included increased serum total bilirubin coexisting with cirrhosis and the total number of cycles of TACE received.

Conclusion:  The administration of TACE therapy may increase the risk of HBV reactivation in HBsAg-negative/anti-HBc-positive patients diagnosed with unresectable HCC. Further studies are warranted to explore the optimal management of HBV reactivation in patients with prior resolved hepatitis B.