Changes of hepatitis B surface antigen variants in carrier children before and after universal vaccination in Taiwan

Hepatology. 1999 Nov;30(5):1312-7. doi: 10.1002/hep.510300511.


Mutants of a determinant of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) identified in vaccinated children pose a potential threat to long-term success of vaccination programs. We examined the mutants of a determinant (residues 110-160) of HBsAg in hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA-positive children identified during previous serosurveys in Taipei undertaken just before (1984), 5 years after (1989), and 10 years after (1994) universal vaccination began. In HBV DNA-positive children from 3 surveys, the prevalence of a determinant mutants increased from 8 of 103 (7.8%) in 1984 to 10 of 51(19.6%) in 1989 and 9 of 32 (28.1%) in 1994 and was higher in those fully-vaccinated than unvaccinated (12/33 vs. 15/153, P =. 0003). Most amino acid changes of the variants clustered in residues 125-129 and 140-149. In all 27 children with detectable mutants, the mean age of those vaccinated was younger than those unvaccinated (4. 8 +/- 3.8 vs. 7.9 +/- 2.3 yrs, P <.05); and mutations occurred in a region with greatest local hydrophilicity (residues 140-149) more frequently in those vaccinated than in those unvaccinated (10/12 vs. 6/15, P =.0253). More mutated residues and more mutations at neutralizing epitopes, such as N146, C147, T148, and C149, were found in the 1994 survey. Vaccinated children may contract variant infections through vertical or horizontal transmission. Universal vaccination has accelerated an accumulation of HBsAg a determinant mutants with amino acid changes critical for immune escape in vaccinated children who became carriers, suggesting that new vaccination strategies should be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carrier State / blood
  • Carrier State / virology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Hepatitis B / blood
  • Hepatitis B / virology*
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / genetics*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines*
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Taiwan
  • Time Factors
  • Vaccination


  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines