Transmission of Hepatitis B Core Antibody and Galactomannan Enzyme Immunoassay Positivity via Immunoglobulin Products: A Comprehensive Analysis

Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Jul 1;63(1):57-63. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw222. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


Background: Therapeutic immunoglobulins are used as replacement or immunomodulatory therapy, but can transmit clinically important molecules. We investigated hepatitis B virus (HBV) antibodies and galactomannan enzyme immunoassay (GM-EIA) positivity. Detection of HBV core antibody may prompt antiviral prophylaxis when commencing therapy such as rituximab; a positive GM-EIA result prompts investigation or treatment for invasive fungal disease.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of HBV serology in 80 patients established (>6 months) on immunoglobulin therapy; prospective analysis of HBV serology in 16 patients commencing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG); and pre- and post-infusion analysis of GM-EIA in 37 patients receiving IVIG.

Results: Pre-IVIG, 9 of 80 patients tested positive for HBV surface antibody and 1 of 80 tested equivocal for HBV core antibody. On IVIG, 79 of 79 tested positive for surface antibody, 37 of 80 tested positive for core antibody, and 10 of 80 tested equivocal for core antibody. There were significant differences by product, but among patients receiving products that appear to transmit core antibody, negative results correlated with lower surface antibody titers and longer time since infusion, suggesting a simple concentration effect. There was a progressive increase with each infusion in the percentage of patients testing positive for HBV core antibody among patients newly commencing IVIG. Some patients "seroreverted" to negative during therapy. Certain IVIG products tested positive for GM-EIA and there were rises in index values in corresponding patient samples from pre- to post-infusion. Overall, 5 of 37 patient samples pre-infusion and 15 of 37 samples post-infusion tested positive for GM-EIA.

Conclusions: HBV antibodies and GM-EIA positivity are common in patients receiving IVIG and confound diagnostic results.

Keywords: IVIG; galactomannan; hepatitis B; immunoglobulin; serology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Galactose / analogs & derivatives
  • Hepatitis B / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood*
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / standards
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mannans
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Mannans
  • galactomannan
  • Galactose