Frequency Of, and Factors Associated With, Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation in Hepatitis C Patients Treated With All-Oral Direct-Acting Antivirals: Analysis of a Japanese Prospective Cohort

Hepatol Res. 2017 Dec;47(13):1438-1444. doi: 10.1111/hepr.12919. Epub 2017 Aug 1.


Aim: Several case reports have shown that hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation developed in hepatitis C patients with a current or previous HBV infection during direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment, which led to severe hepatitis or death in some cases. However, its precise frequency and risk factors are not entirely clear. We analyzed a prospective cohort.

Methods: We analyzed HBV reactivation in 461 consecutive hepatitis C patients who received 12 weeks of ledipasvir/sofosbuvir for genotype 1 or sofosbuvir plus ribavirin for genotype 2 at multiple centers.

Results: By the examination of the preserved sera at baseline, 159 patients (34%) were identified as seropositive for HBV core antibody (anti-HBc) and were included in the subsequent analysis; 4 patients were positive for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), and the others were negative. Serum HBV DNA was undetectable or was detectable but <20 IU/mL at baseline for all patients. Serial measurement of HBV DNA at 4 weeks and 12 weeks in the preserved serum samples was available in 147 patients and identified HBV reactivation (defined as the appearance of serum HBV DNA ≥20 IU/mL) in 2 HBsAg-positive and 3 HBsAg-negative patients. No patient developed HBV-associated hepatitis. Patients who developed HBV reactivation had significantly lower anti-HBs titers and higher serum alanine transferase levels before treatment.

Conclusion: Hepatitis B virus reactivation during direct-acting antiviral therapies occurs in 3.4% (5/147) of patients who are positive for anti-HBc. A low titer of anti-HBs and a high serum alanine transferase level prior to treatment are associated with reactivation in this patient group.

Keywords: DAA; HBV reactivation; IFN-free.