Source Hospital Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal.
Reactivation of infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a potentially serious complication of immunosuppression, which can be identified and efficiently prevented. There have been an increasing number of cases of HBV reactivation in patients receiving immunosuppression in the context of rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. The recommendations in this area should be individualized taking into account two aspects: immunosuppressive regimens used (high or low risk of reactivation) and the different stages of HBV infection: chronic hepatitis B, inactive HBV carrier, occult hepatitis B infection defined by HB surface antigen (HBsAg) negative and antibody anti-HB core (anti-HBc) positive. In patients with rheumatic diseases that will start high-risk immunosuppressive drugs, we propose a universal screening with serological tests for hepatitis B (HBsAg, anti-HBs and anti-HBc). Patients with chronic hepatitis B (HBsAg positive, HBV DNA ? 2000 IU/ml, elevated ALT) should initiate antiviral therapy. Inactive HBV carriers (HBsAg positive, HBV DNA <2000 IU / ml, normal aminotransferases) exposed to high risk immunosuppressive therapy should undergo prophylaxis of HBV reactivation. Prophylaxis should be started 2 to 4 weeks before the beginning of immunosuppressive therapy and maintained for at least 6 to 12 months after its suspension. It is recommended to use entecavir or tenofovir as first line antiviral agents. In inactive HBsAg carriers under low-risk immunosuppressive therapy and patients with HBsAg nega-tive/anti-HBc positive (HBV infection in the past), the strategy should be monitoring of viral reactivation with aminotransferases and HBV DNA determination in every 6 months.