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Immunology. 1994 Jan;81(1):149-54.

A longitudinal study of per cent agalactosyl IgG in tuberculosis patients receiving chemotherapy, with or without immunotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology, UCL Medical School, London, U.K.


An increased percentage of circulating IgG molecules that lack galactose from the oligosaccharides on the CH2 domain correlates with disease severity in tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. We have recently observed that a single injection of 10(9) autoclaved Mycobacterium vaccae given to tuberculosis patients 7 days after the initiation of chemotherapy causes accelerated clinical improvement, and clearance of bacilli from the sputum. We now show that this immunotherapy also causes rapid loss of agalactosyl IgG, detectable within 14-21 days, whereas chemotherapy alone causes agalactosyl IgG to rise further for up to 2 months. There is simultaneous inhibition of the antibody response to lipoarabinomannan, and transient enhancement of the tuberculin skin-test response. These findings are compatible with a shift from antibody production towards increased cell-mediated immunity. The ideal treatment for tuberculosis would supplement a truncated course of chemotherapy with an immunotherapeutic preparation able to down-regulate the Koch phenomenon and replace it with an efficiently bactericidal mechanism. We tentatively postulate that a fall in per cent agalactosyl IgG [%Gal(0)] in tuberculosis patients may be a marker of such a change.

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