Use of renal allografts from donors positive for hepatitis B core antibody confers minimal risk for subsequent development of clinical hepatitis B virus disease.

Journal Article


The risk associated with transplantation of renal allografts from hepatitis B virus core antibody-positive (HBcAb(+)), hepatitis B virus surface antigen-negative (HBsAg(-)) donors is not well defined.


Over 4 years, we performed 45 kidney transplants from IgG HBcAb(+), IgM HBcAb(-), HBsAg(-) donors into recipients with a history of prior hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or reported vaccination. We examined HBV-related outcomes in these 45 patients, in comparison with 45 recipients of allografts from HBcAb(-) donors (matched for transplant type, date, and pretransplant HBV antibodies). We sought evidence for HBV transmission by testing posttransplant sera for the presence of HBcAb, hepatitis B virus surface antibody, and HBsAg. Additionally, we analyzed alanine aminotransferase profiles and allograft survival rates for all patients.


No patient receiving an allograft from an HBcAb(+) donor developed clinical HBV infection. No patient receiving an allograft from an HBcAb(+) donor had HBsAg detected through retrospective testing of stored sera or through prospective routine clinical evaluation and care. However, among the HBcAb(+) kidney recipients, 27% developed new HBcAb and/or hepatitis B virus surface antibody after transplant; in contrast, only 4% of control patients developed new antibody responses (relative risk=4.94; confidence interval 1.07-22.83). Among the recipients of HBcAb(+) organs, 18% developed elevated transaminases after transplant, in comparison with 36% of the controls. No association was found between "seroconverter" status and elevated alanine aminotransferase profiles in either group.


Transplantation of renal allografts from HBcAb(+), HBsAg(-) donors was not associated with clinically detectable HBV disease or antigenemia. However, recipients had a significantly increased risk of HBV seroconversion, consistent with exposure to HBV antigen. These results suggest that HBcAb(+) kidneys can be safely used if transplanted into appropriate recipients, but highlight the need for effective HBV vaccination and vaccine-response monitoring in potential recipients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Madayag, RM; Johnson, LB; Bartlett, ST; Schweitzer, EJ; Constantine, NT; McCarter, RJ; Kuo, PC; Keay, S; Oldach, DW

Published Date

  • December 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 64 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 1781 - 1786

PubMed ID

  • 9422420

Pubmed Central ID

  • 9422420

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-6080

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0041-1337

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00007890-199712270-00027


  • eng