Accelerated schedule of hepatitis B vaccination in liver transplant candidates.
Kallinowski B. Benz C. Buchholz L. Stremmel W.
Department of Medicine IV, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Liver transplantation has become the treatment of choice worldwide for many patients with end-stage liver disease. In terms of survival and quality of life, the results of the procedure in many centers are very good. However, the long-term function of the grafts may be affected by vascular, immunologic, or infection problems, the latter being a major cause of morbidity and mortality after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Therefore, prophylactic vaccination against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is recommended in patients awaiting liver transplantation. Individuals with chronic advanced liver disease are known to be less responsive to HBV vaccination. On the other hand, the widely recommended standard schedule (months 0, 1, and 6) for immunization against hepatitis B takes 6 months, a regimen which may not be completed in time prior to OLT or which may not be completed due to noncompliance, possible reasons for the lower rates of seroprotection in OLT candidates. Studies show that, in principle, complete immunization with an accelerated hepatitis B vaccination protocol (0, 7, 21 days) induces early seroprotection with excellent seroprotection rates and anti-HBs titers in immunocompetent individuals. We therefore performed a prospective clinical trial to assess immunogenicity and reactogenicity of this accelerated vaccination regimen in OLT candidates compared to healthy controls.