Background/aims: Reactivation of chronic hepatitis B viral infection causes significant morbidity and mortality after bone marrow transplantation. Recently, nucleoside analogues, such as famciclovir, were found to have a direct suppressive effect on hepatitis B virus replication in both in vitro and in vivo studies. We have studied the effect of famciclovir on the incidence of hepatitis B virus reactivation and hepatitis after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.
Methods: Eight hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients who received allogeneic bone marrow transplantation were given oral famciclovir 250 mg three times daily, starting at least 1 week prior to bone marrow transplantation and continuing for 24 weeks after transplantation. Clinical and serological outcomes in these patients were compared with 24 HBsAg-positive recipients of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation who did not receive famciclovir (historical controls).
Results: After bone marrow transplantation, there were five patients with hepatitis B virus reactivation among those who received famciclovir 250 mg three times daily. Four of these patients responded to increased dosages of 500 mg three times daily and did not develop hepatitis. The remaining patient suffered from hepatitis related to hepatitis B virus reactivation. Compared to historical controls, there were fewer cases of hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation and veno-occlusive disease. The median follow-up was 701.6 days (range: 50-2346 days) with ten deaths (three due to hepatic failure related to HBV reactivation) in those who did not receive famciclovir and one death (due to hepatic failure related to graft-versus-host disease) in those who received famciclovir.
Conclusions: Use of famciclovir significantly reduced hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation in HBsAg-positive recipients after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.