, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 19-26
Date: 24 Jan 2014

Management of hepatitis B virus-related acute liver failure


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most important cause of acute liver failure (ALF) in Eastern countries. HBV-related ALF may occur after acute HBV infection (A-ALF) or during acute exacerbation (flare) of chronic HBV infection (C-ALF). C-ALF may occur spontaneously or as a result of the effect of immunosuppression due to chemotherapeutic or immunosuppressive agents. The definition of HBV-related ALF is uncertain, because different diagnostic criteria are used in C-ALF, which may present as acute-on-chronic liver failure. Although the pathogenesis differs in the two subgroups of ALF, the symptoms and biochemical parameters can be similar. High titers of immunoglobulin M hepatitis B core antibody and lower viral loads are frequent in A-ALF as compared with C-ALF. The prognosis of C-ALF is significantly poor as compared with that of A-ALF. In C-ALF, most immunosuppression-mediated reactivation of hepatitis B results in fatality. Many case series or case-control studies have not demonstrated the survival benefit of nucleos(t)ide treatment. This treatment failure is probably related to delayed initiation of nucleos(t)ide treatment and viral suppression. Treatment with nucleos(t)ide analogs should be started immediately and should be continued regardless of subgroups of HBV-related ALF. Liver transplantation is the only treatment option that improves the prognosis of HBV-related ALF. Patients under consideration for transplantation should be given nucleos(t)ide analogs as prophylaxis to reduce the likelihood of post-transplant HBV recurrence.