Background: There are numerous recent reports on the use of lamivudine for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection after renal transplantation. However, the optimal strategy (prophylactic, preemptive, or salvage approach) for starting lamivudine treatment in this patient group has not been determined. The aim of this study was to assess how the timing of lamivudine therapy affected the HBV serological status and the transaminase levels in renal allograft recipients with chronic HBV infection.
Methods: We investigated outcomes for patients who were seropositive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and underwent transplantation before or after October 2004 (the date our institution implemented a prophylactic lamivudine treatment strategy against HBV). The data included serum liver enzyme levels and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening results for HBV-DNA in serum.
Results: Fifteen patients (11 before October 2004, four after October 2004) were included in the study. Preoperatively all patients had normal transaminases levels and 2 of 15 patients had detectable HBV-DNA on PCR. Eight of the 15 total HBsAg-positive patients in our series were not placed on lamivudine at the time of renal transplantation. Half of those who were not treated initially showed transaminase elevations in the first year of follow-up requiring lamivudine therapy at that time. In contrast, all seven individuals who received lamivudine at the time of transplantation were negative for HBV-DNA throughout the follow-up.
Conclusion: To prevent viral replication in HBsAg-positive patients who are scheduled for renal transplantation, it is best to initiate lamivudine therapy before or immediately after transplantation.