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Blood. 2002 Jul 15;100(2):391-6.

Lamivudine therapy for prevention of immunosuppressive-induced hepatitis B virus reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen carriers.

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Liver Unit, Division of Medicine, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.


Viral reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers undergoing immunosuppressive therapy is well documented. To evaluate the role of lamivudine prophylaxis in Hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers treated with immunosuppression for nonhepatic disorders, we reviewed our experience between 1997 and 2000 at Hadassah University Hospital (Jerusalem, Israel). Controls were patients who were HBV carriers and who, between 1990 and 1995, were treated for hematological malignancies but were not treated with lamivudine. Eighteen HBsAg-positive patients were treated with immunosuppression. Fourteen were males, with a mean age of 48 years. Eleven patients had lymphoma; 2 had colonic adenocarcinoma; and 5 had cryoglobulinemia, enophthalmitis, vasculitis, malignant histocytosis, or ulcerative colitis. Fourteen patients were treated with chemotherapy, and 4 with prolonged high-dose corticosteroids. All patients were HBsAg-positive; 4 had hepatitis B e antigen, and 10 had HBV DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Lamivudine was administered to 13 patients in the treatment group 1 to 60 days (mean, 15 days) before immunosuppressive treatment and continued 0.5 to 24 months (mean, 7 months) following initiation of immunosuppression. Mean follow-up after lamivudine administration was 21 months. Three patients died of lymphoma complications and 10 (77%) survived. None of the patients had clinical or serological evidence of HBV reactivation during or after lamivudine prophylaxis. Of 6 patients who presented with liver function test disturbances, 5 improved during combined lamivudine and immunosuppression treatment. At the end of follow-up, HBV DNA became undetectable in 2 of 10 patients. In 2 patients, seroconversion from HBsAg to anti-HBs was observed. In contrast, 2 of 5 control patients had HBV reactivation. Lamivudine prophylaxis in HBsAg carriers receiving immunosuppressive therapy may prevent HBV reactivation and hepatic failure.

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