The presence of anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) core antibody (anti-HBc) is considered a sensitive lifetime marker of HBV infection. Here, we examined this dogma by investigating the prevalence of hepatitis B viremia in anti-HBc negative complete vaccines in Taiwan. A total of 795 participants (1.7-20.0 years old) had completed HBV vaccination in infancy and were anti-HBc negative. Serum samples were available for 460 individuals with isolated anti-HBV surface antibodies (anti-HBs) (HBsAg-negative and anti-HBc negative) and for 245 individuals who tested negative for all 3 markers (triple seronegative). All samples were submitted for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting both the preS/S and X/pre-C gene regions. Of the 460 participants with isolated anti-HBs, 26 (5.65%) were positive for HBV by 2-target PCR. Of the 245 triple seronegative samples, 12 (4.90%) were positive for HBV DNA. In the former group, the prevalence of viremia was significantly higher in individuals aged 6 to 10 years than in all other ages combined (11.82% vs 3.7%, P=0.001). The anti-HBs titers were significantly lower in participants 6 to 10 years old than in all other ages combined (72.06 vs 99.64mIU/mL, P=0.038). In total, 7 (0.99%) subjects had quantifiable HBV DNA levels (280-18,820IU/mL). Sequence analysis of the S gene revealed vaccine escape like mutations. Hepatitis B viremia can occur in completely vaccinated individuals who are negative for anti-HBc.
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Lai, M. W., Lin, T. Y., Liang, K. H., Lin, W. R., & Yeh, C. T. (2016). Hepatitis B viremia in completely immunized individuals negative for anti-hepatitis B core antibody. Medicine (United States), 95(49), e5625. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000005625