Perspectives on Hepatitis B Infections and the Efficacy of Vaccination (Hepatitis B and Pneumococci) in Dialysis Patients
Hepatitis B is a well known problem in dialysis units. We therefore examined the historical frequency of hepatitis B carriers in our unit, our vaccination program to hepatitis B virus (HBV), the response to hepatitis B vaccine, the IgG subclass response of anti-HBs and the response and IgG subclass response to pneumococcal vaccination (another vaccine) in dialysis patients. From 1970 and onwards 23 HBV carriers were found, but no new cases of hepatitis B occurred during the study period, i.e. from 1980 and onwards.Only one of the carriers was alive by the end of 2001. In four patients liver disease (in one of them liver cirrhosis) may have been a concomitant cause of death. The antibody response to hepatitis B vaccine was significantly lower in patients than in staff. In four patients a fourth injection was cancelled due to transplantation and bad health, while such data were lacking in 8 cases. In anti-HBs positive patients and controls a significant difference in the response of healthy adults was observed in anti-HBs IgG1 (p < 0.001) vs all other IgG subclasses. Dialysis patients had low levels, or negative findings, in all cases, with IgG1 as the highest proportion found (3/11 patients). An antibody response to pneumococcal vaccination was registered in 25 out of 29 dialysis patients (in all 86%). The IgG-subclass vaccination response to pneumococci in 28 dialysis patients was mainly IgG2 and IgG1 but also occurred in IgG3 and IgG4. Prevaccination antibody levels of the controls were higher in IgG1 and IgG2 (p < 0.01) (n = 21) than in dialysis patients (n = 28).
Hepatitis B is nowadays a rare, but still dangerous disease in nephrology units. Dialysis patients have a reduced response to hepatitis B vaccine and vaccination schedules should be started early as some patients otherwise may not receive a fourth injection. The adequate antibody response to pneumococcal vaccination mainly due to IgG2 and IgG1 antibodies indicates that the antigen involved is important in vaccination responses in dialysis patients.
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