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J Clin Virol. 2005 Feb;32(2):162-5.

HBV reactivation after kidney transplantation.

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Institute for Medical Virology, Center of Internal Medicine, J.W. Goethe University Hospital, Paul Ehrlich-Str. 40, D-60596 Frankfurt a. M., Germany.


Recent studies suggest that reappearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and loss of anti-HBs antibodies may be common events in bone marrow recipients and patients with chemotherapy. In this study, we reviewed the virologic laboratory records from kidney recipients. Out of 1512 patients, 228 had been diagnosed with resolved HBV infection (anti-HBc positive, HBsAg negative) but normal liver enzyme levels prior to kidney transplantation. Reappearance of HBsAg after kidney transplantation was observed in two (0.9%) of those patients, which may be attributed to reactivation of a latent infection or to a new HBV infection. In both of the patients, HBV infection may have been reactivated although immunosuppression was just on a low level over the whole period. We conclude that natural immunity to HBV may not protect against reactivation in patients with suppression of the immune system. Periodic follow-up of HBV serology for early diagnosis of reactivation is highly recommended in transplant recipients.

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