Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental contaminants that are hepatotoxic and immunotoxic. PAH exposure may modulate hepatitis B immunology.
We used data from 6 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2014) to evaluate the associations between urinary PAH metabolites and hepatitis B serology.
This analysis included individuals who self-reported receiving ≥ 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine and urinary PAH metabolites (i.e. 1-napthol, 2-napthol, 3-fluorene, 2-fluorene, 1-phenanthrene, 1-pyrene, and total PAH [sum of all metabolites]). Separate logistic regression models assessed the association between hepatitis B vaccination status (i.e. individuals who were immune due to vaccination or susceptible) and tertiles of urinary PAH. Models were adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, survey cycle, family income to poverty ratio, BMI, country of birth, serum cotinine, and urinary creatinine.
Among participants who reported receiving ≥ 3 doses of vaccine and had no antibodies indicating a history of hepatitis B infection and/or current hepatitis B infection, dose-response relationships were observed where individuals with the lowest odds of serology indicating a response to the hepatitis B vaccine (i.e., anti-HBs, anti-HBc, and HBsAg) were in the highest tertile of 2-Napthol (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]: 0.70, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.54, 0.91), 3-Napthol (aOR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.53, 0.87), 2-Fluorene (aOR: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.54, 0.86), 1-Phenanthrene (aOR: 0.79, 95% CI: 0.65, 0.97), 1-Pyrene (aOR): 0.68, 95% CI: 0.55, 0.83), and total PAH (aOR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.56, 0.95) had the compared to the lowest tertile.
This cross-sectional study supports a hypothesis that PAH exposures experienced by the general US population may modulate hepatitis B vaccine induced immunity. Given the ubiquity of PAH exposures in the US, additional research is warranted to explore the effects of chronic PAH exposures on hepatitis B related humoral immunity.