Research Focuses on Achieving Best Response to Hep B Vaccine

Common biomarkers of inflammation can help to identify those patients who might respond to vaccination.

There may soon be a new way to predict and enhance the effectiveness of vaccinations, in particular the hepatitis B vaccine, according to research published in the current issue of Nature Communications.  

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine noted that common biomarkers of inflammation can help to identify those patients who might respond to vaccination and inform age-related vaccination schedules as well as interventions that might boost effectiveness, such as anti-inflammatory drugs.

The researchers outlined a new model to help predict age-related response to the hepatitis B vaccine, showing that relatively common biomarkers of immune response and inflammation can be used to predict response. This information can help with the development of new vaccine schedules for older patients and determine whether additional interventions — in some cases as simple as aspirin or rapamycin — should be used to address inflammation and maximize vaccine effectiveness.

“We have known for some time that vaccine response changes with age, but we have not been clear on the mechanism nor the important role of inflammation,” Rafick-Pierre Sékaly, PhD, Department of Pathology, and the Richard J. Fasenmyer Professor of Immunopathogensis at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said in a press release about the study.  “By understanding the gene expression of immune inflammatory pathways, we believe that we are close to creating models to predict and improve vaccine response.”

In the study, hepatitis B virus-naïve older adults received three vaccines, including one against HBV. The researchers noted that heightened expression of genes that augment B-cell responses and higher memory B-cell frequencies correlated with stronger responses to the hepatitis B vaccine.  

In contrast, higher levels of inflammatory response transcripts and increased frequencies of pro-inflammatory innate cells correlated with weaker responses to this vaccine. Increased numbers of erythrocytes and the heme-induced response also correlated with poor response to the hepatitis B vaccine.

This study was funded in part by the Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation and Merck Research Laboratories. 


1. Fourati S, Cristescu R, Loboda A, et al. Pre-Vaccination Inflammation and B-cell Signaling Predict Age-related Hyporesponse to Hepatitis B Vaccination. Nat Comm. doi:10.1038/ncomms10369