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J Adolesc Health. 2003 Mar;32(3):183-6.

Mucosal immunity of the adolescent female genital tract.

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Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


This study sought to characterize mucosal immunity of the adolescent genital tract during the cycle and determine if adolescents have more suppressed immunoglobulin levels in the follicular phase than adults. Daily from cycle day 9 until ovulation, then every other day until menses, cervical secretions for IgA, IgG, and cytokines were collected via Weck-Cel sponge and serum for luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, and progesterone was obtained from three adolescent girls (mean age 16.8 years). Immunoglobulin and cytokine levels varied during the menstrual cycle, reaching their nadir around ovulation. Compared with 13 adults, adolescents had a greater drop in IgG in the follicular phase (mean beta-953 vs. -269 microg/mL/day, p = .045), but a similar rate of rise in IgG in the luteal phase (mean beta +118 vs. +100 microg/mL/day, p = .252). Rates of change in IgA did not differ between adolescents and adults for either phase. Although limited by the small sample size, these findings suggest that adolescents may be more sensitive to unopposed estrogen and warrant further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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