Reactivation of hepatitis B virus following systemic chemotherapy for malignant lymphoma

Int J Hematol. 2009 Jul;90(1):13-23. doi: 10.1007/s12185-009-0359-5. Epub 2009 Jun 23.


Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been reported not only in HBsAg-positive patients undergoing systemic chemotherapy, but also in a proportion of HBsAg-negative patients with HBc antibody and/or HBs antibody. Recently, rituximab-plus-steroid combination chemotherapy (R-CHOP, etc.) has been identified as a risk factor for HBV reactivation in HBsAg-negative patients with malignant lymphoma. Prophylaxis with antiviral drugs is essential for preventing HBV reactivation in HBsAg-positive patients, but there is little evidence on which to base the choice of drug or appropriate duration of prophylaxis. There are also few clinical data on HBsAg-negative patients and no established standard of care for such patients with HBV reactivation. Based on the limited number of previous reports, preemptive therapy, guided by serial HBV-DNA monitoring, is a reasonable strategy to prevent HBV reactivation in HBsAg-negative patients. However, clinical evidence alone is insufficient for determining optimal frequency of HBV-DNA monitoring during and after chemotherapy, or for determining when to stop preemptive therapy for HBV reactivation. Thus, well-designed clinical trials should be carried out to investigate the efficacy and safety of such preemptive therapy. Additionally, assessment of viral factors such as HBV genotypes and gene mutations may assist in the development of strategies to prevent the occurrence of severe hepatitis. In this review, we summarize the characteristics of HBV reactivation after systemic chemotherapy including rituximab, and propose a management strategy for malignant lymphoma patients suffering from HBV reactivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / blood
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B Antigens / blood
  • Hepatitis B virus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / blood
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma / virology*
  • Male
  • Virus Activation / drug effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Antigens