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J Med Virol. 2004 Apr;72(4):688-94.

Role of complement in neutralization of respiratory syncytial virus.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


Serum neutralizing antibody titers to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are higher when assayed with guinea pig complement. A number of different mechanisms have been suggested for enhancement of neutralization by complement. The most straightforward is that complement-antibody complexes present a greater steric hindrance to viral entry than with antibody alone. To define the implications of measuring serum neutralizing antibody with and without complement, sera from adults, young children, infants, and cord bloods were run in plaque neutralization assays with representative viruses of the RSV A and B subgroups. Although titers of neutralizing antibody were higher in the presence of complement, the addition of complement did not increase the ability to detect antibody rises after natural infection. Some of the complement effect may be attributable to an inhibition of RSV replication by complement alone. While these observations do not address the role for complement in the pathogenesis of RSV infection, they suggest that neutralization assays performed without complement may be most reflective of physiologic conditions in the respiratory tract.

Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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