The incidence of acute and chronic liver damage and its relation to hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was evaluated in 164 consecutive children with acute leukemia seen in ten Italian hemato-pediatric units. Thirteen out of 164 children (7.9%) had acute hepatitis (AH) during treatment, while 8/90 (8.8%) showed an acute exacerbation of liver damage within 6 months after therapy withdrawal. Seven of the 13 children with AH while on therapy were HBsAg positive. In 12/13 cases, liver disease progressed to chronicity. Five of eight children who developed AH after completion of treatment were HBsAg positive. Eighty-nine patients (54.2%) developed biochemical evidence of chronic hepatitis during therapy; 48/89 were followed after cessation of treatment and 33 of them showed persisting evidence of liver cell necrosis. Thirty-three out of 133 children (24.8%) tested for serum HBsAg were found positive: 26 (78.7%) of them developed chronic hepatitis. Sixty-four out of 133 patients were evaluated after cessation of treatment: Chronic hepatitis persisted in 16/22 HBsAg-positive (72.7%) and in 17/42 HBsAg-negative (40.4%) children during follow-up. The outcome of these liver diseases after treatment withdrawal did not differ significantly in relation to HBV serology, suggesting that viral rather than toxic agents were responsible for liver damage also in most HBsAg-negative patients. The high incidence of chronic HBV infection in children with leukemia found in this multicentric study could suggest a need for active immunization with HBV vaccine, but the efficacy of such approach in this clinical setting is still to be validated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Cancer Research