Division of Digestive Diseases, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is known to inhibit hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication in patients with HBV/HCV coinfection. Reactivation of HBV in patients treated for HCV with direct-acting agents (DAAs) has emerged recently as an important clinical consideration. A growing number of case reports and case series support the association between new HCV treatments and HBV reactivation. Yet, very little is known about the specific viral characteristics that facilitate reactivation as functional characterization of the reactivated HBV has been conducted only rarely. This review provides the most recent data on HBV reactivation in the context of DAA initiation and highlights the existing viral genomic data from reactivating viruses. Current functional studies of HBV reactivation are largely limited by the retrospective identification of cases, no standardization of genomic regions that are studied with respect to HBV reactivation, and the lack of inclusion of nonreactivating controls to establish specific viral mutations that are associated with HBV reactivation. Importantly, none of these sequencing studies included cases of HBV reactivation after initiation of DAAs. While new HCV treatments have revolutionized care for HCV infected patients, HBV reactivation will likely increase in frequency, as DAAs are more commonly prescribed. Pretreatment determination of HBV status and thoughtful management of HBV coinfections will be necessary and lead to improved patient safety and yield optimal treatment results.