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Objective To evaluate the development of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in patients receiving tumor necrosis factor-α-blocking agents (TNFBA), and to evaluate whether lamivudine (LAM) prophylaxis can reduce the risk of viral reactivation in inactive HBsAg carriers.
Methods Local experience and published reports were reviewed. Patients with HBV infection were classified as having chronic HBV hepatitis, or being inactive HBsAg carriers or occult carriers.
Results Three patients in our series and 24 patients in the literature were identified: 2 had active HBV-associated disease, 23 were inactive HBsAg carriers, and 2 occult carriers. When exposed to TNFBA, HBsAg-inactive carriers pretreated with LAM had lower risk of having detectable HBVDNA (p = 0.02) or viral reactivation (p = 0.046) than those without LAM prophylaxis. In 3 patients who discontinued TNFBA, LAM prophylaxis was also discontinued 10–12 months thereafter without hepatitis flares. Two cases of reactivation in occult carriers (HBsAg-negative, anti-HBs+, anti- HBc+) were described in the literature.
Conclusion TNFBA should be avoided in patients with active HBV replication and should be used with caution in inactive HBsAg carriers. In these patients, the risk of viral reactivation seems to be high, but it might be reduced by prophylactic LAM, which should probably be given for a long time when TNFBA are discontinued (e.g., 12 mo). Potential occult carriers might carry a low, but not negligible, risk of viral reactivation. They should therefore be monitored with particular care.