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Vaccine. 2003 Jul 28;21(24):3479-82.

Correlates of immunity to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) associated-hospitalization: establishment of minimum protective threshold levels of serum neutralizing antibodies.

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Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Rm. 248E, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, USA.



To determine if respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) specific, serum antibody titers correlate with protection against RSV associated-hospitalization at all ages.


Participants who were enrolled in a trial to determine the frequency of specific virus infections associated with hospitalization [J. Am. Med. Assoc. 283 (2000) 499] were included in our analysis if they were enrolled from July 1991 to June 1993, had a culture for virus isolation, and provided blood samples at hospitalization and 14-60 days later. RSV infection was defined by a positive culture and/or serology. Microneutralization, ELISA to the fusion (F) protein and Western blot were the serological assays that were used to determine correlates of immunity.


One hundred and seventy-five individuals, 1 month to 89 years old, out of 538 patients hospitalized with an acute respiratory infection met the criteria for analysis. RSV associated-hospitalization occurred in 11 (40.7%) of 27 infants (<1 year), 8 (38.1%) of 21 young children (1 to <5 years), and 15 (11.8%) of 127 children and adults (> or =5 years). At the time of hospitalization, geometric mean neutralizing antibody titers (log(2)) to RSV/A and RSV/B, and geometric mean binding antibody titer (log(2)) to F protein were significantly higher in patients with non-RSV associated-hospitalization compared to those with RSV associated-hospitalization (RSV/A: 7.9 versus 6.1, P<0.001; RSV/B: 9.4 versus 7.3, P<0.001; ELISA-F, 13.9 versus 12.6, P=0.01). For every 1 log(2) increase in titer of neutralizing antibodies to RSV/A and RSV/B, and binding antibody to F protein there was a significant increase in the likelihood of not having an RSV associated-hospitalization by 22.3, 25, and 24.4% respectively. A minimal protective threshold titer of > or =6.0 (odds ratio 3.5; 95% CI 1.4-9.1) and > or =8.0 log(2) (odds ratio 2.9; 95% CI 1.1-7.7) against RSV associated-hospitalization was established for neutralizing antibodies to RSV/A and RSV/B; a threshold titer could not be established for binding antibody to F protein.


Participants with naturally acquired serum neutralizing antibody levels at least equal to the minimal protective threshold titer were approximately three times more likely not to have an RSV associated-hospitalization. We speculate that achieving a minimal protective threshold antibody titer through active immunization will significantly reduce RSV associated-hospitalization among all ages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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