Background: Rituximab has been associated with hepatitis B virus reactivation (HBV-R). However, the characteristics and scope of this association remain largely undefined.
Methods: We completed a comprehensive literature search of all published rituximab-associated HBV-R cases and from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) MedWatch database. Literature and FDA cases were compared for completeness, and a meta-analysis was completed.
Results: One hundred and eighty-three unique cases of rituximab-associated HBV-R were identified from the literature (n = 27 case reports, n = 156 case series). The time from last rituximab to reactivation was 3 months (range 0-12), although 29% occurred >6 months after last rituximab. Within FDA data (n = 118 cases), there was a strong signal for rituximab-associated HBV-R [proportional reporting ratio = 28.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 23.9-34.1; Empiric Bayes Geometric Mean = 26.4, 95% CI 21.4-31.1]. However, the completeness of data in FDA reports was significantly inferior compared with literature cases (P < 0.0001). Among HBV core antibody (HBcAb(+)) series, the pooled effect of rituximab-based therapy showed a significantly increased risk of HBV-R compared with nonrituximab-treated patients (odds ratio 5.73, 95% CI 2.01-16.33; Z = 3.33, P = 0.0009) without heterogeneity (χ(2) = 2.12, P = 0.5473).
Conclusions: The FDA AERS provided strong HBV-R safety signals; however, literature-based cases provided a significantly more complete description. Furthermore, meta-analysis of HBcAb(+) series identified a more than fivefold increased rate of rituximab-associated HBV-R.