Transplanting kidneys from donors with prior hepatitis B infection: One response to the organ shortage

Fabrizio Fabrizi, Suphamai Bunnapradist, Paul Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


While the number of cadaveric organ donors remains relatively stable, the number of patients awaiting transplantation continues to increase, creating a shortage of donor organs. To address this imbalance, there is interest in transplanting organs formerly considered marginal or undesirable. Thus, more organs are currently transplanted from living donors, older donors, hemodynamically unstable donors, non-heart-beating donors and donors with markers of prior hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. A large number (up to 93.8%) of liver transplant seronegative recipients from anti-HBc antibody positive donors have acquired HBsAg after liver transplantation in the absence of immunoprophylaxis. Based on experience in liver transplantation programs, transmission of HBV from donors without HBsAg but with antibody to HBV core antigen (anti-HBc), although conventionally defined as evidence of resolved infection, can have adverse consequences on both graft and recipient. On the contrary, HBV appears to be infrequently transmitted from HBsAg negative/anti-HBcAb positive kidney donors: the incidence of de novo HBsAg seropositivity after renal transplantation ranges between 0 and 5.2%. A significantly higher incidence of anti-HBc antibody seroconversion (without developing HBsAg) after renal transplantation with anti-HBc antibody positive donors was seen. However, anti-HBc antibody positive renal allografts should be considered, especially for recipients who have been successfully immunized with HBV vaccine. Prospective long-term studies are in progress to assess the risk of de novo HBV infection (HBsAg seroconversion) in renal transplant recipients who have not been successfully immunized with vaccine against HBV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-613
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nephrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody against core antigen
  • Hepatitis B virus infection
  • Renal transplantation


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