Hepatitis B and liver transplantation: 2008 update

Rev Med Virol. 2009 Jan;19(1):7-29. doi: 10.1002/rmv.595.


The ultimate goal of treatment is suppression of viral replication to undetectable HBV-DNA levels prior to and after liver transplantation (LT) to prevent infection of the newly transplanted liver. Most published data are available from therapy with lamivudine (LAM) in pre- and post-transplant HBV patients. Add-on therapy with adefovir dipivoxil (ADV) in pre-transplant LAM-resistant patients has been shown to represent an effective antiviral strategy leading to hepatic recompensation in many cases and, eventually, removal from the waiting list. Newer nucleos(t)ide analogues such as entecavir, tenofovir and telbivudine have shown lower resistance rates than LAM and more antiviral potency in studies in the non-transplant setting. Combined hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) and nucleos(t)ide analogue therapy have been widely adopted as the most effective treatment strategy against recurrent HBV disease after LT. Many programs have evaluated lower doses or a shorter duration of HBIG and intramuscular versus intravenous routes of administration. Active immunisation using recombinant HBV vaccines, including the S, pre-S1 and pre-S2 regions, and those with immunostimulatory adjuvants, seem to be more immunogenic than the currently available vaccines and have been used in studies to replace HBIG. Furthermore, it has been shown that immune memory against HBV can be adoptively transferred from organ donors to transplant recipients. Nucleos(t)ide analogue combination therapies might provide an alternative to the current treatment paradigm with costly HBIG; however, experience with this new treatment regimen is very limited and controlled clinical studies are urgently warranted to investigate its safety and efficacy and to determine which nucleos(t)ide analogue combinations will be the most promising in the long term after LT.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenine / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Guanine / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis B / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / therapeutic use
  • Lamivudine / therapeutic use
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Nucleosides / therapeutic use
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidinones / therapeutic use
  • Telbivudine
  • Tenofovir
  • Thymidine / analogs & derivatives


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Nucleosides
  • Organophosphonates
  • Pyrimidinones
  • Telbivudine
  • Lamivudine
  • entecavir
  • Guanine
  • Tenofovir
  • Adenine
  • adefovir dipivoxil
  • Thymidine
  • hepatitis B hyperimmune globulin