Presence of immune memory and immunity to hepatitis B virus in adults after neonatal hepatitis B vaccination

Vaccine. 2011 Oct 13;29(44):7835-41. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.07.098. Epub 2011 Aug 2.


Neonatal vaccination against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was launched in the 1980s in Qidong, China, where HBV and hepatocellular carcinoma were highly prevalent. Presence of immune memory and immunity against HBV in adults needs to be clarified. From a cohort of 806 who received plasma-derived Hep-B-Vax as neonates and were consecutively followed at ages 5, 10, and 20 years, 402 twenty-four-year-old adults were recruited for booster test. Among them 4 (1%) were found to be HBsAg(+), 27 (6.7%) were HBsAg(-)anti-HBc(+), 121 (30.2%) were HBsAg(-)anti-HBc(-)anti-HBs(+), and 252 (62.4%) were HBsAg(-)anti-HBc(-)anti-HBs(-). Of them, 141 subjects with HBsAg(-)anti-HBc(-) were boosted with 10-μg recombinant HBV vaccine on day-0 and 1-month. The conversion rates of anti-HBs ≥ 10 mIU/ml on D10-12 and 1-month post-booster were 71.4% and 87.3% respectively in the vaccinees who were anti-HBs(+) at age 5, higher than in those who were anti-HBs(-) at age 5, 57.5% and 80.0% respectively, but no statistically significant. After the second dose of booster, all subjects with anti-HBs(+) at age 5 had anti-HBs >500 mIU/ml. However, 6/40 subjects, with anti-HBs(-) at age 5, had anti-HBs <10 mIU/ml, geometric mean concentration was 3.6 (95% CI 2.0-7.7). Of the subjects received booster, 44 subjects were determined the presence of T cell immunity on D10-12, 41 had HBsAg-specific T cells detectable, including 7/10 subjects whose anti-HBs were <10 mIU/ml 10-12 days post-booster. Among 27 HBsAg(-)anti-HBc(+) subjects, 19 had detectable serum HBV-DNA, and an "a" epitope mutation was found in 1/5 HBV isolates. One subject who was anti-HBc(+) at age 20 converted into HBsAg(+) 4 years later. The adults received neonatal HBV vaccination had immune memory and immunity against HBV infection. However, 31.9% of neonatal HBV vaccinees who responded weakly at an early age might be susceptible to HBV infection after childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / blood
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary / methods
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines