Background: Combination of nucleos(t)ide analogue and anti-HBs immunoglobulin (HBIg) is the standard protocol for prevention of HBV reactivation after liver transplantation, but because of the extremely high cost of HBIg, HBV vaccine is tried as a much cheaper and potentially safer substitute. Here we show the different effect of HBV vaccine between chronic HBV carrier and non-HBV patients who received grafts from HBc antibody-positive donors. Methods: Fifteen chronic HBV carriers and 6 non-HBV patients who received grafts from HBc antibody-positive donors were included in this study. These patients received double dose of pre-S-containing HBV vaccine every month from later than 12 months after liver transplantation. Successful vaccination was defined as HBsAb >100 IU/l without HBIg administration for 3 months. Results: None of the 15 chronic HBV carriers succeeded in maintaining high enough HBsAb titers. In contrast, 5 of 6 non-HBV patients with HBcAb-positive donors achieved HBsAb >100 IU/l without HBIg coadministration. Recipient HBV status (HBV carrier/non-HBV) was considered to have a stronger effect on vaccine success (p < 0.001) though recipient age (p = 0.006) was also selected as a significant factor. Conclusions: Recipient HBV status seems to be the most important factor affecting success of HBV vaccine after liver transplantation. In non-HBV patients who received grafts from HBcAb-positive donors, HBV vaccination is an effective, cost-saving, and safe method for prevention of HBV reactivations. In contrast in chronic HBV patients, response rate was quite poor, so some modifications such as combination with adjuvant or modification of administration schedules should be considered.
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