UVB Exposure Impairs Immune Responses After Hepatitis B Vaccination in Two Different Mouse Strains


  • Posted on the web site on 15 February 2002.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed at: Laboratory for Pathology and Immunobiology, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, Anthonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. Fax: 31302744437; annemarie.sleijffers@rivm.nl


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.