Background: Most transplant centers in the United States immunize patients awaiting liver transplantation against hepatitis B to prevent acquisition of hepatitis B through transplantation (de novo hepatitis B). A recent study showed that only 16% of patients with cirrhosis awaiting liver transplantation responded to single-dose recombinant vaccine. Methods: We studied the immunogenicity of double-dose recombinant vaccine in patients with cirrhosis awaiting liver transplantation. Results: Over a 4-year period (January 1994 to December 1997), 140 patients with cirrhosis without past or current hepatitis B infection were given double-dose recombinant vaccine (40 μg of Engerix B; Smith-Kline Beecham, Philadelphia, PA) at 0, 1 to 2, and 2 to 4 months. Hepatitis B surface antibody (HBsAb) was measured 1 to 3 months after completing vaccination. The response rate was 37%. However, HBsAb titers became undetectable in 35% of the responders during the post- transplant follow-up period. One hundred and thirty-seven patients underwent 144 liver transplantation procedures during the study period, and 3 patients developed de novo hepatitis B (2.2%). Livers transplanted from hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb)-positive donors was the source of de novo hepatitis B in all cases. Two of the 3 patients who developed de novo hepatitis B were immunized before transplantation and one of them was a responder. Conclusion: Although the response rate to double-dose recombinant vaccines is higher than the previously reported response to single-dose vaccine, it still is less than optimal.
- Hepatitis B
- Orthotopic liver transplantation
- Recombinant vaccine
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