Aim: To investigate the cellular defects by analyzing the (Th1/Th2) cytokine levels in vaccine responders and non-responders.
Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) from responders and non-responders were stimulated with or with out recombinant HBsAg or PHA. Broad spectrum of cytokines viz (Th1) IFN-gamma, IL-2, TNF-alpha, IL-12 and (Th2) IL-10, IL-4 were measured after in vitro stimulation with recombinant HBsAg and were compared with respective antibody titers.
Results: A significant decrease (P = 0.001) in Th1 and Th2 cytokines namely, IL-2, INF-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL-10 in non-responders was observed. The level of IL-4 was not significant between the three groups. Furthermore, despite a strong Th1 and Th2 cytokine response, the level of IL-12 was elevated in high-responders compared to other groups (P = 0.001) and demonstrated a positive correlation with anti-HBs titers and Th1 cytokine response.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that unresponsiveness to recombinant hepatitis B vaccines (rHB) is multifactorial, including specific failure of antigen presentation or the lack of both T helper Th1 and Th2 response.