Two patients with nephrotic syndrome developed fatal fulminant hepatitis B following withdrawal of prednisolone or cyclophosphamide. Immunosuppressive therapy probably enhanced hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and widespread infection of hepatocytes; its withdrawal permitted a return of immune competence resulting in massive destruction of infected hepatocytes. Prior screening of all patients for hepatitis B surface antigen, gradual withdrawal of immunosuppressive drugs with careful monitoring, and prompt intervention with corticosteroids at the first clinical or biochemical signs of liver cell damage may prevent this complication.
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