Successful kidney transplantation from a hepatitis B surface antigen-positive donor to an antigen-negative recipient using a novel vaccination regimen

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Transplanting a kidney from a hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive donor to an HBsAg-negative recipient who is naturally immune has been successful in countries endemic for hepatitis B virus (HBV). However, in most of these cases, the donors were deceased. We present a report of a successful HBsAg-discordant kidney transplantation in the United States; in this case, a living donor kidney was transplanted to a vaccinated recipient. The wife of a 58-year-old HBsAg-negative man volunteered to donate a kidney to her husband. She had chronic hepatitis B but undetectable HBV DNA. She tested positive for HBsAg and antibody to hepatitis B core antigen, but hepatitis B e antigen was undetectable. The recipient failed to develop an antibody response to 3 doses of intramuscular recombinant HBV vaccine given in consecutive months. Immunity was induced by using biweekly intradermal vaccine. However, antibody titer tapered to <10 mIU/mL over 14 months. An intramuscular booster vaccine resulted in a prolonged anamnestic response, allowing for successful living unrelated donor transplantation. During the 10 years since transplantation, the patient has continued to have normal liver function, with undetectable HBsAg and HBV DNA. Antibody titers to HBsAg slowly decreased to 5.8 mIU/mL during the 10 years. Transplant function has been well preserved. This approach to inducing long-term immunity for transplantation merits further study in the United States.