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Vaccine. 2002 Jun 7;20(19-20):2597-602.

Immune response of HLA DQ2 positive subjects, vaccinated with HBsAg/AS04, a hepatitis B vaccine with a novel adjuvant.

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Centre for Vaccinology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185 9000, Ghent, Belgium.


About 5-10% of the general adult population respond inadequately to hepatitis B vaccination. The histocompatibility leucocyte antigen (HLA) DQ2, DR3 and DR7 phenotypes have been linked with non-responsiveness to hepatitis B vaccination. A first part of our study determined the prevalence of the HLA DQ2 allele in a healthy population, aged 15-50 years. We found 35% of our study population (n=1008) positive for the HLA DQ2 allele. Positive subjects for HLA DQ2 were subsequently invited to participate in a trial and were to be given either the HBsAg/AS04 hepatitis B vaccine or a licensed hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix-B).(1) Both contained 20 microg of recombinant HBsAg. The HBsAg/AS04 vaccine was administered on a 0 and 6 months schedule whilst the comparator vaccine was given according to the standard 0, 1 and 6 months schedule. The experimental vaccine was formulated on a novel adjuvant containing 3' deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A (3D-MPL) and alum. A total of 230 subjects were enrolled into the vaccination study. At month 7, 99% of the subjects had a protective titre (>or=10mIU/ml) with a geometric mean titre (GMT) of 6613mIU/ml in the group receiving HBsAg/AS04 versus 97% seroprotected with a GMT of 2315mIU/ml in the other group. Both vaccines, with their respective schedule, give very high seroprotection rates (>96%). Our data suggest that HLA DQ2 positivity is not a good marker for non- or poor-responsiveness. The HBsAg/AS04 vaccine was more reactogenic mainly because of an increased local reactogenicity. Both vaccines, especially HBsAg/AS04, are highly immunogenic and well tolerated by the study subjects.

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