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Longevity of Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses to Hepatitis B Vaccination

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 — Poster Session II

Noon – 2:00 p.m

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • J.M. Werner
  • A. Abdalla
  • N. Gara
  • M. Ghany
  • B. Rehermann


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection can be prevented by HBV surface antigen (HBs) vaccination, but the duration of immunoprotection and the need for revaccination are unclear. Here, we assessed the longevity of immune responses in 158 subjects vaccinated as adults 10-14 (n=48), 15-19 (n=50) or more than 20 years (n=60) ago in comparison to subjects who acquired natural immunity. Those with anti-HBs levels less than 12 IU/ml were additionally studied after booster vaccination. Surprisingly, the three vaccine groups did not differ in HBs-specific antibodies (EIA) and T cell responses (Elispot and flow cytometry on 93 subjects). HBs-specific T cells were less frequently observed than antibodies (37% versus 78.5%, p=0.0001), but the vigor of the T cell-mediated IFN-γ-response correlated to antibody levels (p=0.0364, r=0.22). Moreover, the baseline response of HBs-specific polyfunctional IFNγ+ TNFα+ CD4 T cells predicted the antibody response to booster vaccination (p=0.0083, r=0.47). Patients with natural immunity had the same prevalence of HBsAg-specific T cells, but responded more vigorously than vaccinees (0.043+/-0.025% versus 0.01+/-0.003% IFNγ+ CD4 T cells, p=0.02) and recognized additional HBV antigens. In conclusion, humoral and cellular immune responses do not significantly decay for 10-20 years after vaccination. Polyfunctional memory CD4 T cells predict successful booster vaccination.

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