Indexed on: 20 Sep '11Published on: 20 Sep '11Published in: Gut and liver
The exclusion of hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb)-positive donors from liver transplants (LTs) due to the risk of transmitting hepatitis B virus (HBV) does not appear to be practical in Korea, where hepatitis B is endemic. This study assessed the risk of de novo HBV infection in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative LT recipients receiving a liver from HBcAb-positive donors.Of 341 adult living donor LTs conducted at our institution between March 2001 and September 2008, 176 donors (51.6%) were HBcAb-positive, and 26 HBcAb-positive grafts were transplanted to HBsAg-negative recipients. The median follow-up time after LT was 41.9 months.Without anti-HBV prophylaxis, 2 out of 26 (7.7%) HBsAg-negative recipients who received grafts from HBcAb-positive donors developed de novo HBV infection 20 and 85 months after LT. These patients had been negative for all HBV serologic markers before transplantation. In both cases, there were no abnormalities in liver function tests upon diagnosis of de novo HBV infection.De novo HBV infection from HBcAb-positive donors after LT does not appear to be of great concern in terms of the number of cases in Korea because high risk patients who are HBV-negative comprise only a small proportion of the recipients. However, HBV-naïve LT recipients still carry the risk of developing de novo HBV infection as in non-HBV endemic areas.