Significance of Response to Hepatitis B Recombinant Vaccine in Subjects with Isolated Antibody to Hepatitis B Core Antigen

Ali Bahari, Shahrokh Izadi, Zohreh Bari, Soheyla Khosravi, Bita Baghaei, Esmaeil Saneimoghadam, Farzad Firouzi, Ali Espiari, Abbas Esmaeilzadeh, Ali Mokhtarifar, Alireza Bakhshipour, Azita Ganji



It is important to differentiate whether isolated anti-HBc is due to false positive results or the prior exposure to hepatitis B virus, because individuals with false-positive anti-HBc can benefit from vaccination and their blood can be safely transfused. To distinguish between these two conditions, we evaluated the serologic response to hepatitis B vaccine.


Ninety subjects with isolated anti-HBc (cases) and 100 subjects with totally negative hepatitis B serologic markers (controls) were recruited to receive three doses of hepatitis-B (HB) vaccine. Thirty days after the first dose of the vaccine, anti-HBs titers were checked and individuals with anti-HBs titer >50 mIU/mL did not receive additional doses of the vaccine. However, others completed the vaccination course, and another blood sample was collected 30 days after the third dose to measure anti-HBs level.


Nineteen (21.1%) cases and three (3%) controls had no sero-conversion (anti-HBs titers <10 mIU/mL) 30 days after the third dose (p<0.0001). Primary response, defined as the development of anti-HBs antibody titers ≥10 mIU/mL 30 days after the third dose, was observed in 43 (47.8%) cases and 92 (92%) controls (p<0.0001). Also, 31.1% of cases developed anti-HBs titers ≥ 50 mIU/mL 30 days after the first dose of vaccine, but the rate was significantly lower (5%) in the control group (p<0.0001). Furthermore, half of the individuals with positive isolated anti-HBc developed protective levels of anti-HBs after three doses of HB vaccination.


More than 75% of individuals with positive isolated anti-HBc can benefit from vaccination and can be included in donor pool. Also, one fifth seemed to have occult HBV infection. So HB vaccination may be used as a diagnostic tool for clarifying the situation of the subjects with isolated anti-HBc.


Hepatitis B Core Antigens; Hepatitis B Vaccine; Blood Donors

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