Chemotherapy-related reactivation of hepatitis B infection: updates in 2013

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Oct 28;20(40):14581-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i40.14581.


Hepatitis B reactivation is a potentially serious complication of anticancer chemotherapy, which occurs during and after therapy. This condition affects primarily hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients, but sometimes HBsAg-negative patients can be at risk, based only on evidence of past infection or occult infection with a low titer of detectable hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA. The clinical outcomes vary with the different degrees of virologic and biochemical rebound, ranging from asymptomatic elevations in liver enzymes to hepatic failure and even death. Despite the remarkable advancement in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B over the past decade, proper strategies for the prevention and management of HBV reactivation remain elusive. Moreover, with the increasing use of rituximab in patients with lymphoma, HBV reactivation in occult or past infections has become increasingly problematic, especially in HBV-endemic regions. This review addresses the current knowledge on the clinical aspects and management of chemotherapy-related HBV reactivation, updates from recent reports, several unresolved issues and future perspectives.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Hepatitis B virus; Reactivation.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis B virus / drug effects*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / mortality
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / virology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Activation / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents