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J Hepatol. 2012 May;56(5):1189-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.08.026. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

The option of HBIG-free prophylaxis against recurrent HBV.

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Medicine and Transplant Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Since the early 1990's, hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) has been central to the prevention of hepatitis B virus (HBV) recurrence after liver transplantation. When used in combination with oral nucleos(t)ide analogues, HBIG prevents reinfection with HBV in ⩾90% of transplant recipients. While HBIG is highly efficacious, its use is undermined by its high cost. Because of this limitation, there have been many studies of alternative regimens seeking to minimize the dose or duration of HBIG without sacrificing low HBV recurrence rates. Toward that goal, lower dose intramuscular HBIG in combination with oral nucleos(t)ide analogues has been shown to be highly efficacious in preventing disease recurrence and represents a significant cost savings when compared with high dose intravenous administration. The withdrawal of HBIG after a defined course of combination HBIG and oral antivirals has also been shown to be effective, particularly if combination antiviral therapy is used. The ability to achieve undetectable HBV DNA levels pre-transplantation in the majority of patients may contribute to the high efficacy of these HBIG "light" regimens. Additionally, the success of antiviral rescue therapy for those patients who fail prophylaxis and develop recurrent HBV infection post-transplant has provided the impetus to move increasingly towards HBIG-free approaches. New techniques to detect occult HBV in hepatic and extrahepatic sites may allow clinicians to define a subgroup of patients in whom withdrawal of HBIG or all prophylaxis may be applicable.

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