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Transplantation. 2005 Jun 15;79(11):1631-3.

Solid-organ transplantation in HBsAg-negative patients with antibodies to HBV core antigen: low risk of HBV reactivation.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Regensburg, D-93042 Regensburg, Germany.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation is a well-described event in HBV surface antigen (HbsAg)-positive patients undergoing immunosuppression. There are only few data about the risk of HBV reactivation in HBsAg-negative solid-organ transplant recipients with resolved HBV infection. We conducted a systematic screening of serum and liver samples from 38 HBsAg-negative and anti-HBV core antigen (anti-HBc)-positive patients for the presence of HBV-DNA and for serologic HBV markers before and after solid-organ transplantation (kidney, n=23; liver, n=9; heart, n=6). Pretransplant prevalence of HBV-DNA was 24% (6/25) in serum and 33% (3/9) in liver samples. Forty-four percent (15/34) of the recipients were viremic after transplantation; this finding was more common in patients coinfected with hepatitis C (P=0.011) and in patients negative for anti-HBs (P=0.001). Two recipients became antigenemic (HBsAg-positive), but none developed clinical signs of hepatitis. In conclusion, subclinical reactivation of HBV infection was detected in a significant proportion of HBsAg-negative solid-organ-transplant recipients.

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