Transcriptome profiling in blood before and after hepatitis B vaccination shows significant differences in gene expression between responders and non-responders

Esther Bartholomeus, Nicolas De Neuter, Pieter Meysman, Arvid Suls, Nina Keersmaekers, George Elias, Hilde Jansens, Niel Hens, Evelien Smits, Viggo Van Tendeloo, Philippe Beutels, Pierre Van Damme, Benson Ogunjimi, Kris Laukens, Geert Mortier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: As the hepatitis B virus is widely spread and responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality, WHO recommends vaccination from infancy to reduce acute infection and chronic carriers. However, current subunit vaccines are not 100% efficacious and leave 5-10% of recipients unprotected.

METHODS: To evaluate immune responses after Engerix-B vaccination, we determined, using mRNA-sequencing, whole blood early gene expression signatures before, at day 3 and day 7 after the first dose and correlated this with the resulting antibody titer after two vaccine doses.

RESULTS: Our results indicate that immune related genes are differentially expressed in responders mostly at day 3 and in non-responders mostly at day 7. The most remarkable difference between responders and non-responders were the differentially expressed genes before vaccination. The granulin precursor gene (GRN) was significantly downregulated in responders while upregulated in non-responders at day 0. Furthermore, absolute granulocytes numbers were significantly higher in non-responders at day 0.

CONCLUSION: The non-responders already showed an activated state of the immune system before vaccination. Furthermore, after vaccination, they exhibited a delayed and partial immune response in comparison to the responders. Our data may indicate that the baseline and untriggered immune system can influence the response upon hepatitis B vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6282-6289
Number of pages8
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling/methods
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Hepatitis B/genetics
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies/immunology
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines/therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis B virus/immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vaccination/methods
  • Young Adult


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