In a recent study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases and presented during the Annual Meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR 2015), a team of researchers found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are less protected by hepatitis B vaccination in comparison to the general population.
Results from the trial showed that 11% of patients with RA responded to the vaccine versus 83% of those without RA, indicating that patients with RA are at increased risk of getting hepatitis B, even if they have the vaccine.
“The majority of RA patients tested as part of our study were not protected by hepatitis B vaccination,” said in a recent news release study author MishaTilanus, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands. “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.”
In the study, researchers administered the Hepatitis B vaccine HBVAXPRO-10 according to the standard regimen (0, 1 and 6 months). Markers of response to the vaccine (hepatitis B antigens, anti-HBsAG) were determined after 28 weeks of vaccination.
The results showed that patients with RA were at an increase risk of non-response in comparison to controls, with an odds ratio of 44 (age and gender adjusted). Moreover, researchers found no response differences between patients using anti-TNF, DMARBs or rituximab.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. The main underlying cause of RA is not yet fully understood, although doctors do know that an abnormal response of the immune system plays a leading role in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs. Along with joint inflammation and pain, many people experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever. Because RA is a systemic disease, it may also affect organs and body systems. The prevalence of the condition varies between 0.3% and 1% and is more common in women and in developed countries.
Hepatitis B is a life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus and there are an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected worldwide.