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Epidemiol Infect. Oct 2005; 133(5): 883–889.
Published online Apr 25, 2005. doi:  10.1017/S0950268805004097
PMCID: PMC2870320

Influence of age and carriage status on salivary IgA to Neisseria meningitidis.

Abstract

Asymptomatic carriage of Neisseria meningitidis is common (5-35% of individuals) while the incidence of invasive meningococcal disease is fairly low (<1-5 per 100,000 per annum in Europe). Naturally acquired protective immunity may account for this difference. In this study, we investigated the relationship between anti-meningococcal salivary IgA and age and carriage. We showed that salivary IgA to a range of meningococcal antigens increased successively with age with some specificity for commonly circulating serosubtypes. In a group of 258 students 37 (14%) of whom were carriers of N. meningitidis serogroup B, higher levels of specific IgA were associated with carriage. Stratified analysis revealed a positive relationship between smoking and specific anti- N. meningitidis IgA independent of current carriage, weighted odds ratio (OR) 4.1 (95% CI 1.1-18) and OR 3.8 (95% CI 0.96-16) for reference strains B:1:P1.14 and B:4:P1.5,4 respectively. These data implicate IgA as a factor in host defence from meningococcal invasion, although the precise mechanisms remain uncertain.

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