Reactivation of hepatitis B virus after rituximab-containing treatment in patients with CD20-positive B-cell lymphoma

Kosei Matsue, Shun Ichi Kimura, Yoko Takanashi, Kan Ichi Iwama, Hideaki Fujiwara, Masayuki Yamakura, Masami Takeuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) after rituximab-containing chemotherapy in patients with B-cell lymphoma has been recognized as a potentially serious complication in HBV immune patients. METHODS: To determine the HBV reactivation in patients treated with rituximab, a retrospective study of HBV-related markers was performed before and after rituximab-containing treatment in 261 consecutive patients with CD20-positive B-cell lymphoma. RESULTS: Of the 261 patients, 230 patients were tested for both hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) before treatment. Fifty-six (24.3%) of 230 patients were anti-HBc positive, and the remaining 174 (75.6%) patients were anti-HBc negative. Among the 56 anti-HBc-positive patients, 5 (8.9%) became HBsAg positive (HBV reactivation), whereas none of the 174 anti-HBc-negative patients became HBsAg positive with a median follow-up of 24 months (P =.001). Among the 5 patients with HBV reactivation, 4 were negative for antibody to HBsAg (anti-HBs), and 1 patient was positive for anti-HBs. All 5 of these patients were treated successfully with entecavir on detection of HBsAg, although 4 of the 5 patients exhibited mild to moderate elevation of alanine aminotransferase. Among 56 anti-HBc-positive patients, those negative for anti-HBs had a higher probability of developing HBV reactivation compared with those positive for anti-HBs (4 of 19; 21.1% vs 1 of 37; 2.7%, P =.014). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with isolated anti-HBc are at high risk of HBV reactivation and should be monitored closely for HBsAg, anti-HBs, HBV-DNA, and transaminase levels during and after rituximab-containing treatment. Although preemptive use of entecavir enabled successful management of HBV reactivation, mild to moderate hepatic flare was still observed. These approaches should be further evaluated in a prospective study with regard to clinical usefulness, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4769-4776
Number of pages8
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody to hepatitis B core antigen
  • B-cell lymphoma
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Reactivation
  • Rituximab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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