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ABSTRACT

Ultraviolet light exposure can impair immune responses that are not restricted to the exposed skin but is also found at other sites, i.e. systemic immunosuppression. Therefore, we investigated the UV-induced modulating effects on vaccination against hepatitis B in a mouse model. Two different mouse strains, BALB/c and C57Bl/6, were vaccinated intramuscularly against hepatitis B. Mice were exposed to different doses of ultraviolet B (UVB) for five consecutive days on shaved back skin before the vaccination. Vaccination against hepatitis B induced cellular (delayed-type hypersensitivity [DTH] and lymphocyte stimulation test) as well as humoral immune responses in both mouse strains. The DTH responses in C57Bl/6 mice were statistically significantly higher compared with BALB/c mice. UVB exposure induced a dose-dependent suppression of cellular immunity in both strains of mice. C57Bl/6 mice seemed to be more susceptible to this suppression. Anti-hepatitis B surface antibodies (total-Ig) were only marginally suppressed after UVB exposure. IgG2a and interferon-γ levels, both indicators for Th1 immune response, were suppressed in both mouse strains after UVB exposure. In summary, UVB exposure induced a dose-dependent suppression of both cellular and humoral immune responses after hepatitis B vaccination, although the suppressive effects on humoral immunity were limited to IgG2a production. Susceptibility to UVB-induced immunomodulation depended on the strain of mice and their predilection for developing different T cell responses.