Use of renal allografts from donors positive for hepatitis B core antibody confers minimal risk for subsequent development of clinical hepatitis B virus disease

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Conference Proceeding

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Background. The risk associated with transplantation of renal allografts from hepatitis B virus core antibody-positive (HBcAb(+)), hepatitis B virus surface antigen-negative (HBsAg(-)) donors is not well defined. Methods. Over 4 years, we performed 45 kidney transplants from IgG HBcAb(+), IgM HBcAb(-), HBsAg(-) donors into recipients with a history of prior hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or reported vaccination. We examined HBV-related outcomes in these 45 patients, in comparison with 45 recipients of allografts from HBcAb(-) donors (matched for transplant type, date, and pretransplant HBV antibodies). We sought evidence for HBV transmission by testing posttransplant sera for the presence of HBcAb, hepatitis B virus surface antibody, and HBsAg. Additionally, we analyzed alanine aminotransferase profiles and allograft survival rates for all patients. Results. No patient receiving an allograft from an HBcAb(+) donor developed clinical HBV infection. No patient receiving an allograft from an HBcAb(+) donor had HBsAg detected through retrospective testing of stored sera or through prospective routine clinical evaluation and care. However, among the HBcAb(+) kidney recipients, 27% developed new HBcAb and/or hepatitis B virus surface antibody after transplant; in contrast, only 4% of control patients developed new antibody responses (relative risk=4.94; confidence interval 1.07-22.83). Among the recipients of HBcAb(+) organs, 18% developed elevated transaminases after transplant, in comparison with 36% of the controls. No association was found between 'seroconverter' status and elevated alanine aminotransferase profiles in either group. Conclusions. Transplantation of renal allografts from HBcAb(+), HBsAg(-) donors was not associated with clinically detectable HBV disease or antigenemia. However, recipients had a significantly increased risk of HBV seroconversion, consistent with exposure to HBV antigen. These results suggest that HBcAb(+) kidneys can be safely used if transplanted into appropriate recipients, but highlight the need for effective HBV vaccination and vaccine-response monitoring in potential recipients.

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