Published online Jan 15, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i2.260
Revised: October 4, 2003
Accepted: October 11, 2003
Published online: January 15, 2004
AIM: To determine if the T cell memory to HBsAg can persist for a long time after hepatitis B (HB) vaccination.
METHODS: Thirty one vaccine recipients who were healthcare workers (18 females and 13 males aged 34-58 years) from Utrecht University Hospital, Netherlands, and had previously received a standard course of vaccination for hepatitis B were investigated and another 9 unvaccinated healthy volunteers from the same hospital were used as the control. Blood samples were taken just before the experiment to test serum anti-HBs levels and the subjects were classified into different groups according to their serum titers of anti-HBs and vaccination history. Their peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from freshly heparinized venous blood and the proliferative response of T lymphocytes to the recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was investigated.
RESULTS: Positive serum anti-HBs was found in 61.3% (19/31) vaccine recipients and a significant in vitro lymphocyte proliferative response to recombinant HBsAg was observed in all the vaccinees with positive anti-HBs. Serum anti-HBs level ≤ 10 IU/L was found in 38.7% (12/31) subjects. In this study, we specially focused on lymphocyte proliferative response to recombinant HBsAg in those vaccine recipients with serum anti-HBsAg less than 10 IU/L. Most of them had received a standard course of vaccination about 10 years before. T lymphocyte proliferative response was found positive in 7 of the 12 vaccine recipients. These results confirmed that HBsAg-specific memory T cells remained detectable in the circulation for a long time after vaccination, even when serum anti-HBs level had been undetectable.
CONCLUSION: The T cell memory to HBsAg can persist for at least 10 years after HB vaccination. Further booster injection is not necessary in healthy responders to HB vaccine.