Defect in Th1-like cells of nonresponders to hepatitis B vaccine

Hum Immunol. 1997 Nov;58(1):42-51. doi: 10.1016/s0198-8859(97)00209-7.


Peripheral blood lymphocytes from nonresponders to hepatitis B vaccine (HBsAg) failed to undergo a proliferative response to recombinant HBsAg in vitro, whereas cells from responders proliferated vigorously. The lack of proliferative response was not due to defective antigen presentation in that MHC-identical responder and nonresponder antigen presenting cells were equally effective in stimulating responder T cells. Nonresponder T cells did not proliferate in response to antigen-pulsed MHC identical responder antigen presenting cells. The present study demonstrated that: 1) there were no detectable (1 in < 20 x 10(4) HBsAg-precursor T cells in any of the nonresponders, while in responders the frequency of HBsAg-precursor T cells ranged from 1 in 3.2 x 10(3) to 1 in 40 x 10(3); 2) nonresponder cell cultures did not secrete IL-2 in response to HBsAg stimulation; 3) exogenous recombinant IL-2 did not restore the proliferative response of the T cells in HBsAg-pulsed cultures of nonresponders. These results suggest that the cellular basis for the lack of response to HBsAg is a defect in HBsAg-specific Th1-like cells; either there is an absence of the Th1 cells or cells with TCR specificity for HBsAg are present but are unresponsive to the HBsAg peptide-MHC complex (i.e., anergy or tolerance).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytohemagglutinins / immunology
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology*


  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Vaccines, Synthetic