Latent tuberculosis: Risk factors, screening and treatment in liver transplantation recipients from an endemic area

World J Transplant. 2021 Dec 18;11(12):512-522. doi: 10.5500/wjt.v11.i12.512.


Background: Patients undergoing solid organ transplantation, particularly those who live or have lived in tuberculosis (TB) endemic areas, are at a high risk of developing TB. The majority of post-transplantation TB cases are associated with reactivation of latent TB infection (LTBI). Brazil is in a single position with overlapping areas of high TB endemicity and high transplant activity. In liver transplant (LT), one should be aware of the potential hepatotoxicity associated with the treatment regimens for LTBI.

Aim: To evaluate the frequency of LTBI in LT patients and treatment-related issues.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of a cohort of cirrhotic patients aged ≥ 18 years, who underwent LT at a high-complexity teaching hospital from January 2005 to December 2012.

Results: Overall, 429 patients underwent LT during the study period. Of these, 213 (49.7%) underwent the tuberculin skin test (TST) during the pre-transplant period, and 35 (16.4%) of them had a positive result. The treatment for LTBI was initiated after LT in 12 (34.3%) of the TST-positive patients; in 3 (25.0%), treatment was maintained for at least 6 mo.

Conclusion: The prevalence of LTBI was lower than expected. Initiation and completion of LTBI treatment was limited by difficulties in the management of these special patients.

Keywords: Infection; Latent tuberculosis; Liver transplantation; Risk factors; Transplantation; Tuberculosis.