• Acute hepatitis B;
  • Chronic hepatitis B;
  • Hepatitis B reactivation;
  • Antiviral drugs;
  • Fulminant hepatitis;
  • Hepatitis flare


The natural course of hepatitis B virus infection and the resulting hepatic injury is determined by the degree of virus replication and the intensity of host immune response. Upon exposure to hepatitis B virus (HBV), individuals with a vigorous and broad immune response develop acute self-limited infection, which may result in acute hepatitis. However, with stringent testing for HBV and universal precautions, acute HBV is rather rare. Reactivation of HBV most often presents as acute hepatitis B (AVH-B) and clinically, it is difficult to differentiate AVH-B from reactivation of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and it requires a high index of suspicion. In the presence of high HBV DNA (>2 × 104 IU/ml) underlying liver disease should be investigated by liver biopsy, endoscopy and/or imaging. The degree of liver failure often depends on the severity of acute insult and the stage of underlying chronic liver disease. Mutations in the HBV genome, immunosuppressive therapy and viral or drug induced injury are common causes of reactivation. As most patients with AVH-B resolve the infection spontaneously, antiviral therapy is not indicated in them. However, the use of a potent oral nucleoside(tide) analogue is necessary as soon as possible in patients with CHB reactivation. Liver transplantation should be considered in patients who develop liver failure secondary to severe acute exacerbation. If this is not feasible, supportive therapy with the addition of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF) therapy could be beneficial.