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J Neuroimmunol. 2004 May;150(1-2):48-58.

Postpartum maternal corticosterone decreases maternal and neonatal antibody levels and increases the susceptibility of newborn mice to herpes simplex virus-associated mortality.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


The effects of corticosterone on the transmammary transfer of herpes simplex virus (HSV)-specific antibody and the ability of the neonate to survive HSV-2 infection were assessed. Increased postpartum maternal corticosterone reduced the levels of total and HSV-specific IgG in the serum and milk of mothers. Neonates nursed by these mothers received increased levels of corticosterone and decreased levels of total and HSV-specific IgG. Accordingly, these neonates were more susceptible to HSV-2-associated mortality; however, survival was restored through passive immunization with HSV-specific antibody. These studies demonstrate that postpartum elevations in corticosterone compromise a mother's ability to provide protective antibody to their offspring.

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