Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Liver failure from delayed hepatitis B reactivation in anti-HBc-positive patient following rituximab for B-cell lymphoma
  1. Branko Borojevic1,
  2. Ayushi Chauhan2 and
  3. Scott Patterson3
  1. 1General Medicine, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2General Medicine, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Gastroenterology and General Medicine, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Branko Borojevic; borojevicbranko2{at}


A 93-year-old man was admitted with 1 week of frank jaundice and abdominal pain. His medical history included diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treated with rituximab and cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunomycin, oncovin and prednisolone (R-CHOP) chemotherapy 10 months prior. His investigations revealed marked hyperbilirubinemia with a total bilirubin of 355 μmol/L, along with a 17-fold elevation in alanine transaminase and impaired hepatic synthetic function. He tested hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B surface antibody (HBsAb) negative, hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb) positive and had elevated hepatitis B virus DNA level at 13 691 IU/L. This was in the setting of radiological evidence of suspected cirrhosis. He was later found to have tested positive for HBcAb and negative for HBsAg and HBsAb prior to chemotherapy, but had not received antiviral prophylaxis. He was diagnosed with fulminant hepatitis secondary to delayed hepatitis B reactivation in the setting of rituximab. Hepatitis B reactivation and the role of screening and antiviral prophylaxis in isolated HBcAb-positive patients is reviewed.

  • hepatitis B
  • liver disease
  • chemotherapy
  • haematology (incl blood transfusion)

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors BB: Planning, conduct, reporting, conception and design, acquisition of data and interpretation of data. AC: Data acquisition and interpretation, reporting and editing. SP: Planning, interpretation of data and editing, and speciality oversight.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer-reviewed.