OBJECTIVES: There is a genetic predisposition to hepatitis B vaccine nonresponse. The link between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotype and ineffective development of immunity to the hepatitis B vaccine has been characterized in multiple studies. Celiac disease has a strong association with a particular HLA genotype of DQ2; interestingly, this HLA genotype is seen in association with nonresponders to the hepatitis B vaccine. We report a disproportionate number of patients with celiac disease who are nonresponders to the hepatitis B vaccine series. METHODS: We reviewed the hepatitis B vaccine records, serological tests for anti-hepatitis B surface antigen antibody (anti-HBs), and HLA genotypes of celiac disease patients identified as nonresponders to hepatitis B vaccine. Subjects were identified from a database of patients diagnosed with celiac disease at our institution or referred to our center for evaluation and management of celiac disease between November, 2000, and October, 2002. RESULTS: A total of 23 subjects were reviewed. All had a clinical and pathological diagnosis of celiac disease. All subjects reported receiving the full series of hepatitis B vaccinations. Of the subjects, 19 had testing for hepatitis B vaccine response. Of these 19 subjects, 13 did not achieve long-term immunity as seen by the negative qualitative or quantitative anti-HBs antibody titer. All tested subjects were either homozygous or heterozygous for DQ2. CONCLUSIONS: We postulate that celiac disease patients may have a significant predisposition to hepatitis B vaccine nonresponse. Both celiac disease and hepatitis B vaccine nonresponse is genetically mediated. Celiac disease patients may have a failure of induction of humoral immune response needed for development of long term immunity; the mechanism for this is unclear.
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