Background: Sarcoidosis is known to be associated with defects in cellular immunity, especially in reference to T helper lymphocytes. Anergy to a tuberculin skin test is most characteristic of this disease.
Objectives: To further the data on impaired immunity, we studied the antibody response to hepatitis B vaccination in patients with sarcoidosis.
Methods: Serologic markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) (HBsAg, anti-HBs, anti-HBc) were studied in 40 patients with sarcoidosis (32 female, 8 male; mean age: 45 +/- 11 years, range: 25-66 years) with a mean duration of disease of 6 years. While all the markers were negative in 22 patients (55%), 2 had isolated anti-HBc positivity and 16 had both anti-HBc and anti-HBs antibodies. Thirty-five age- and sex-matched healthy subjects were studied as controls. Recombinant HBV vaccines (Genhevac B Pasteur, 20 microg) were administered (at 0, 1, and 6 months) to 16 of the seronegative cases and the controls and antibody titres were measured 1 month after the last dose. The tuberculin skin test was negative in all cases.
Results: While none of the vaccinees in the diseased group responded, the control group yielded an antibody response rate of 85. 7% (30/35), with a mean titre of 257.9 mIU/ml.
Conclusions: Patients with sarcoidosis were invariably unresponsive to standard vaccination, while some of the diseased subjects had already mounted a natural antibody response, either before or after the development of the original disease. Cellular immunodeficiency in sarcoidosis could be a suitable model for studying immunological interactions between HBV and the host.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel