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Infect Immun. 2007 Sep;75(9):4416-22. Epub 2007 Jun 25.

Comparative role of immunoglobulin A in protective immunity against the Bordetellae.

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Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 115 Henning Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


The genus Bordetella includes a group of closely related mammalian pathogens that cause a variety of respiratory diseases in a long list of animals (B. bronchiseptica) and whooping cough in humans (B. pertussis and B. parapertussis). While past research has examined how these pathogens are eliminated from the lower respiratory tract, the host factors that control and/or clear the bordetellae from the upper respiratory tract remain unclear. We hypothesized that immunoglobulin A (IgA), the predominant mucosal antibody isotype, would have a protective role against these mucosal pathogens. IgA(-/-) mice were indistinguishable from wild-type mice in their control and clearance of B. pertussis or B. parapertussis, suggesting that IgA is not crucial to immunity to these organisms. However, naïve and convalescent IgA(-/-) mice were defective in reducing the numbers of B. bronchiseptica in the upper respiratory tract compared to wild-type controls. Passively transferred serum from convalescent IgA(-/-) mice was not as effective as serum from convalescent wild-type mice in clearing this pathogen from the tracheae of naive recipient mice. IgA induced by B. bronchiseptica infection predominantly recognized lipopolysaccharide-containing O-antigen, and antibodies against O-antigen were important to bacterial clearance from the trachea. Since an IgA response contributes to the control of B. bronchiseptica infection of the upper respiratory tract, immunization strategies aimed at inducing B. bronchiseptica-specific IgA may be beneficial to preventing the spread of this bacterium among domestic animal populations.

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