Hepatitis B Vaccine Less Effective In Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hepatitis B Vaccine Less Effective In Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Results recently presented during the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) Press Conference demonstrated that patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are less likely to become protected by the hepatitis B vaccine when compared to the general population.

According to the study, only 11 percent of those suffering with the disease reacted to the vaccine versus 83 percent of subjects who did not suffer from arthritis. This suggests that people with RA might be at risk for infection in spite of vaccination.

Vaccination with HBVAXPRO-10 was preformed taking into account the standard regimen (zero, one and six months), with response markers (hepatitis B antigens, anti-HBsAG) examined after 28 weeks. Rheumatoid arthritis patients had a greater risk for non-response when compared to controls, with an odds ratio of 44 (corrected for age and gender). There was no difference in response between patients using anti-TNF, DMARBs or rituximab.

Rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic and chronic disease, strikes the joints, muscles, connective tissues, tendons and fibrous tissue. The worldwide prevalence of the disease varies between 0.3 percent and 1 percent and is more frequently observed in women and in developed countries. Arthritis and several of the treatments to address it suppress the immune system which leaves affected patients at risk of fatal infections.

“The majority of RA patients tested as part of our study were not protected by hepatitis B vaccination. People with RA have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality from infections, and to discover that immunisation might not confer protection is a real concern. It’s crucial that patients and healthcare practitioners are aware of this lack of efficacy and do all they can to minimise risk,” said Misha Tilanus, study investigator from the Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection and life-threatening condition that results from the hepatitis B virus. Estimates say that 240 million people in the world are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus, and a total of 780,000 people die each year as a consequence of the infection.

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Isaura Santos graduated with a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and a MA in Communication, Culture and Information Technologies from University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL). Her professional interests include science communication, public awareness of science and communication of science through entertainment.

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