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Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2009 Apr;7(3):321-8. doi: 10.1586/eri.09.2.

Hepatitis B immunoglobulin in preventing reinfection following liver transplantation.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, CA 92868-3298, USA.


Before the availability of hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) in hepatitis B-positive transplant recipients, the acute mortality was very high, in many centers up to 50% within 60 days post-transplant. The overall reinfection rate was approximately 60% within the initial 6 months, increasing to 80-90% within the initial 12 months and, in many cases, leading to allograft loss and death or retransplantation. These recurrent infections were often more severe and more rapidly progressing than the initial infection, probably due to high-dose immunosuppressive regimens. The poor prognosis before introduction of HBIG made hepatitis B liver disease an absolute contraindication for liver transplantation, leaving these patients with very limited treatment options. This changed in the late 1980s with the introduction of HBIG, which reduced the incidence of hepatitis B in the transplanted liver to approximately 15-50%, with concomitant improvement in graft and overall survival. The prognosis was further improved by a combination of long-term HBIG and antiviral therapy, in particular lamivudine, which reduced the reinfection rate, in most cases to between 0 and 5%. Owing to the cost and relative inconvenience of HBIG, some transplant centers have experimented with early discontinuation of HBIG and replacement with antiviral monotherapy. A number of studies, however, have found significantly higher recurrence rates associated with lamivudine monotherapy (40-50%) compared with combination therapy and, hence, lamivudine monotherapy is not recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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