Int J Med Sci 2005; 2(1):41-49. doi:10.7150/ijms.2.41 This issue


Management of HBV Infection in Liver Transplantation Patients

John M. Vierling

David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Vierling JM. Management of HBV Infection in Liver Transplantation Patients. Int J Med Sci 2005; 2(1):41-49. doi:10.7150/ijms.2.41. Available from

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In the absence of preventative therapy, reinfection of allografts with hepatitis B virus (HBV) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) resulted in dismal allograft and patient survival. Major advances in the management of HBV-infected recipients of OLT during the past 15 years have steadily reduced the rate of reinfection, resulting in improved outcomes. Initially, long-term use of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) as a source of anti-HBs antibodies was effective in preventing or delaying reinfection. Lamivudine monotherapy made it possible to suppress HBV replication prior to OLT, markedly decreasing the risk of reinfection. Although lamivudine monotherapy used before and after OLT could prevent reinfection, its effectiveness was limited by progressive development of lamivudine-resistant mutant infections. Combination therapy with HBIG and lamivudine after OLT reduced both HBV recurrence and the risk of lamivudine resistance even in patients with active HBV replication. Introduction of adefovir provided a safe, alternative oral antiviral able to treat effectively lamivudine-resistant mutants HBV. Available strategies to prevent reinfection have resulted in OLT outcomes for HBV-infected patients comparable to those for patients transplanted for non-HBV indications. In the future, combination therapies of HBIG and both nucleoside and/or nucleotide agents will undoubtedly be optimized. Development of new drugs to treat HBV will increase opportunities to combine agents to enhance safety, efficacy and prevent emergence of HBV escape mutants. New vaccines and adjuvants may make it possible to generate anti-HBs in immunosuppressed patients, eliminating the need for HBIG.

Keywords: HBV Infection, Liver Transplantation, Patient Management