Chronic liver disease associated with hepatitis B virus infection is both common and serious; no satisfactory treatment currently exists. Orthotopic liver transplantation is an option for patients with end-stage liver disease associated with hepatitis B virus infection despite the risk of allograft reinfection. Passive immunoprophylaxis has been attempted perioperatively to prevent graft infection but has not been beneficial. Some patients with chronic type B hepatitis have benefited clinically from antiviral therapy and, in particular, interferon, but its use has not previously been reported as an approach to prevent allograft infection. We administered recombinant leukocyte A interferon perioperatively to a patient who underwent liver transplantation for type B chronic active hepatitis and cirrhosis. Circulating hepatitis B virus DNA was found postoperatively while the patient was receiving interferon, and stainable viral antigen subsequently reappeared in the transplanted liver. Thus, the drug failed to prevent viral replication and allograft infection. Thus far, no evidence of progression of the chronic hepatitis has been noted.
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