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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2007 Nov;13(11):1065-71. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Evaluation of human antibody responses to diphtheria toxin subunits A and B in various age groups.

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Department of Immunology, Gazi University, Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.


This study aimed to evaluate human antibody responses to diphtheria toxin subunits in various age groups. Antibodies against the intact diphtheria toxin and the diphtheria toxin subunits A and B were evaluated in 1319 individuals using a double-antigen ELISA. Although high levels of protection (83.6%, 95% CI 79.2-87.4) were found in children and adolescents, the middle-aged adult population was less protected (28.8%, 95% CI 24.3-33.6). An increase in age was associated with a decrease in the frequency of protected individuals in the 0-39-year age group (p <0.001). Anti-subunit B levels correlated well (p <0.01) with levels of antibodies against the intact toxin. In children aged < or =16 years, the intervals at which the peaks in geometric mean titres of anti-subunit B antibodies were observed were found to correlate with the ages at which booster doses are administered. Overall, males appeared to be more protected than females (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.34-2.08, p <0.001). A small group of individuals had antibody levels of > or =0.1 IU/mL against the intact toxin, but did not have protective antibody against subunit B. Determination of anti-subunit B antibody levels should help in evaluating the effectiveness of diphtheria boosters and other aspects of diphtheria immunity.

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