Hepatitis B transmission by cell and tissue allografts: how safe is safe enough?

Research paper by Pilar P Solves, Vicente V Mirabet, Manuel M Alvarez

Indexed on: 27 Jun '14Published on: 27 Jun '14Published in: World journal of gastroenterology


More than 2 million human tissue transplants (bone, tendon, cartilage, skin, cornea, amniotic membrane, stem cells, heart valve, blood vessel, etc.), are performed worldwide every year. Cells and tissues are shared between countries which have different regulations and laboratory equipment and represent a risk of hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmission that has become a global safety concern. While the risk of transfusion-transmitted HBV infection from blood donations has been estimated, the rate of HBV transmission from donors to recipients of allografts is unknown and varies between different tissues. There are various important ways of reducing the transmission risk, but donor screening and donor testing are still the main factors for preventing HBV transmission. HBV detection is included in the routine screening tests for cell and tissue donors. The standard test for preventing transplant-transmitted hepatitis B is the hepatitis B surface antigen. The implementation of methods involving nucleic acid amplification and the new generation of reactives to detect viral antibodies or antigens with an immunoassay, has increased the sensitivity and the specificity of the screening tests. The objective of our research was to review the literature and critically analyse the different steps for avoiding HBV transmission in cell and tissue donors, focusing on the screening tests performed.