Efficacy and Safety of Hepatitis B Vaccination in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Receiving Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs and/or Biologics Therapy

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ObjectivesThe aims of this study were to assess efficacy and safety of the hepatitis B vaccination in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients receiving conventional and/or biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).MethodsA prospective open-label study was conducted. Of 46 RA patients, 33 received only conventional synthetic DMARDs, and 13 received both conventional synthetic DMARDs and biological DMARDs, and 9 healthy age- and sex-matched control subjects were vaccinated with 20 μg recombinant hepatitis B vaccine (EuVax B) at weeks 0, 4, and 24. Hepatitis B surface antibody levels were measured 8 weeks after the last dose of vaccination. Seroprotection was defined as hepatitis B surface antibody level of 10 mIU/mL or greater. Disease Activity Score in 28 Joints scores were recorded at weeks 0, 4, and 32 in 46 RA patients who received hepatitis B vaccination and 47 treatment-matched RA patients who did not receive it. Adverse events were recorded at each visit.Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS version 16.0.ResultsSeroprotection was lower in the RA patients than in the control subjects (64% vs. 100%, P = 0.045). Patients receiving biological DMARDs and conventional DMARDs had a lower proportion of seroprotection compared with the control group (50% vs. 100% [P = 0.02] and 69.7% vs. 100% [P = 0.09], respectively). Among RA patients, responders were younger than nonresponders with a mean age of 57.5 (SD, 9.0) years and 64.9 (SD, 10.9) years (P = 0.04) and less likely to be treated with rituximab (6.9% vs. 37.5%, P = 0.01). Overall, hepatitis B vaccination was well tolerated. The rate of RA flare was not increased after hepatitis B vaccination.ConclusionsPatients with RA receiving DMARDs had less humoral response to hepatitis B vaccination as compared with control subjects. Aging and rituximab use were associated with impaired response to hepatitis B vaccination. Hepatitis B vaccination is safe and well tolerated in RA patients.

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