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Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Dec 15;33 Suppl 4:S288-91.

How to make sense of pertussis immunogenicity data.

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  • 1Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, SE-171 82 Solna, Sweden.


Studies on serologic correlates to protection in pertussis were reviewed. Trials in the 1950s showed that agglutinogen titers correlated to protection of whole-cell vaccines, but postvaccination antibodies against pertussis toxin (PT) and against filamentous hemagglutinin did not in a later trial of acellular vaccines. However, in household studies nested in 2 recent trials, preexposure antibody levels against pertactin and against fimbriae correlated with protection against typical and mild pertussis, and anti-PT correlated only with protection against typical pertussis. These findings could be used by regulatory agencies to license pertussis vaccines. A reference laboratory for pertussis should distribute panels to control interlaboratory variation in recommended assays, and a minimal response should be set for each pertussis antigen. We conclude that 2 studies have shown correlates between measurable anti-pertactin, anti-fimbriae, and anti-PT antibody levels at exposure and individual protection against pertussis. We suggest that postvaccination response rates may be used as surrogate markers of protection.

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