Background: Many individuals do not respond to a three-dose series of hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) and most do not achieve a protective antibody response until after dose 2 or 3.
Methods: Healthy, seronegative 18-28 year old adults were randomly assigned in equal numbers to receive two doses of the experimental vaccine (HBV-ISS without alum) (0, 8 weeks) and placebo (24 weeks) or Engerix-B (0, 8, 24 weeks). Adverse events were collected during the first week and at 4 weeks after each injection. Antibodies were measured 4 weeks after dose 1; before, 1 and 4 weeks after dose 2, and before, 1 and 4 weeks after dose 3 and at 1 year.
Results: Ninety-nine participants were enrolled (65% female; mean age 22.6 years). 79% of HBV-ISS and 12% of Engerix-B recipients had a protective antibody response 4 weeks post dose 1 (geometric mean concentration [GMC] 23.0 and 1.87 mIU/mL, respectively). By 1 week post dose 2, 100% of HBV-ISS and 18% Engerix-B recipients had protective levels (GMC 1603 versus 2.40 mIU/mL). Rates of adverse events were low and similar in both groups; headache and fatigue were the most common systemic adverse events in up to 1/3 of both groups. Mild injection-site tenderness was more common after HBV-ISS than Engerix-B after both doses (74-77% compared to 34-58%; p<or=0.029).
Conclusions: Protective levels are achieved more quickly and after fewer doses of HBV-ISS than Engerix-B. HBV-ISS is well tolerated but associated with more mild injection-site tenderness than Engerix-B.