Background. Indication of liver transplantation for patients infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains controversial because of the high incidence of posttransplant HBV recurrence and aggressive involvement of the allograft. In this article, we provide evidence that the introduction of lamivudine may favorably alter the prognosis of these patients. Methods. Lamivudine was used in 40 HBV-infected adult patients suffering from chronic end-stage liver disease who underwent liver transplantation. The drug was used in the following settings: failure of prolonged passive immunoprophylaxis, elective conversion from immunoprophylaxis, de novo posttransplant HBV infection, end primary treatment with lamivudine which started before and continued after transplantation. Twenty patients (50%) had vital replication at the time lamivudine was started. Posttransplant and antiviral treatment follow-ups were 8-64 months (median follow-up: 27.5 months) and 9-39 months (median follow-up: 19 months), respectively. Results. The patient and graft survival rates were 97.5% (39/40). Thirty-three patients (82.5%) have remained free of vital recurrence. In the seven re- infected patients, the manifestations of HBV involvement of the allograft have been mild. There have been no side effects related to lamivudine, and the treatment is substantially less costly than with other anti-HBV agents. Conclusions. Compared with historic series utilizing other modalities of treatment, the use of lamivudine has, so far, yielded superior results. This drug may be an important acquisition for antiviral prophylaxis in HBV- infectod liver recipients. Because of the risk of viral mutations, however, efforts should proceed to achieve more efficacious methods for prevention and control of HBV recurrence.
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