1Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Stratton Veterans Affair Medical Center, Albany, New York, USA.
2Department of Medicine, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, USA.
3Division of Nephrology, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Albany, New York, USA.
4Biochemistry & Immunology Core Facility at Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York, USA.
5Translational Medicine, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, USA.
Human disease elicits a complex array of biological processes that results in long-term protective immunological memory to infectious agents. Chronic kidney disease is known to impair induction of sustained immunological memory to hepatitis B vaccine (HBVax) antigens. We asked the question: Does end-stage renal disease promote changes in subtypes of regulatory T (Treg) cells that correlate with diminished amnestic response to HBVax antigen compared to healthy controls? The study design and setting was a prospective observational cohort at a veterans affairs medical center. End-stage renal disease patients on hemodialysis (HD) were compared with individuals with self-reported normal kidney function. All subjects received HBVax. Peripheral blood was sampled for assessment for Treg cells pre and post vaccination. CD4+ FOXP3 Treg numbers were similar between HD and healthy subjects during a 14-day time period post vaccination. HD subjcts had lower anti-HBSag antibody than CON (control) subjects (330 ± 108.7 vs. 663.1 ± 129.7 IU/mL; P = 0.063). Hemodialysis subjects with resting Tregs higher than the median value in our cohort demonstrated a significantly lower change in HBsAB at 30 days post booster vaccination (P = 0.030). No such relationship was found for the activated Treg subset among HD subjects, or either subset among CON subsets. In our limited comparison study of 11 HD and 8 CON subjects, Treg subsets did not differ between the two groups; but differences in the suppressive Treg numbers in the HD group could explain the altered antibody response to HBVax and is worthy of further study.