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Transplantation. 2006 Jan 15;81(1):76-80.

Kidney transplantation from anti-HBc+ donors: results from a retrospective Italian study.

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Department Trasfusionale e di Riferimento per il Trapianto di Organi e Tessuti, IRCCS Fondazione Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy.



The risk of transmitting a hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection from donor kidneys with a past HBV serological profile may be negligible. Data on HBV transmission to kidney transplant recipients from donor organs that were anti-HBc/HBsAg in Italy has not been previously reported. Anti-HBc testing in cadaver organ donors has been mandatory in Italy since 2002, when anti-HBc determinations were included in the National Guidelines for donor evaluation. Therefore, prior to that date kidney recipients from anti-HBc/HBsAg donors can be identified retrospectively where stored serum is available for testing.


The prevalence of anti-HBc Italian organ donors, the incidence of HBV transmission according to the recipients' HBV status (vaccinated, recovered, or naive), and the clinical impact (5-year graft and patient survival rates) in the North Italy Transplant program was evaluated by retrospectively screening for anti-HBc antibodies in the sera of cadaver kidney donors used in transplants from 1997 to 1999.


Two hundred and ten donors were found to have been anti-HBc. At the time of the study, no active infection was observed in any of the 344 HBsAg recipients, but 4/140 (2.86%) of the vaccinated recipients were found to have been anti-HBc/HBsAg. None of these patients, however, had any biochemical or clinical history of HBV infection. Patient and graft survival rates of anti-HBc or anti-HBc kidney recipients did not differ statistically.


Kidney grafts from anti-HBc donors should be considered in all recipients because the benefit obtained from the transplantation out weighs the negligible risk of HBV transmission.

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