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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1991;310:87-92.

Ontogeny of the mucosal immune response in children.

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Hunter Area Pathology Service, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.



The development of secretory IgA was followed in saliva of 263 children from birth to age 5, and in cross sectional studies of Australian school children and Papua New Guinea highland children from birth to age 5. Salivary IgA first appeared after the first week of life, peaking at 6 weeks, and falling again at 12 weeks, then rising to a peak around age 5-7, to remain at adult levels. A transient period of absent salivary IgA occurred sometime during the first 4 years in a few individuals. 5 factors were found to affect the pattern of development of IgA: the mucosal IgM response, mucosal permeability, feeding, environmental exposure, and nutritional status. The presence of IgA was associated with IgM, but not albumin, suggesting that it is secreted by plasma cells locally, rather than by transudation. On the other hand, presence of IgG in saliva was associated with that of albumin, a marker of mucosal permeability. Feeding infants formula accelerated the appearance of IgA, suggesting that this is an immune response to formula contents or to altered gut flora. In Papua New Guinea, malnourished children had lower total IgA and specific IgA antibody to E. coli and H. influenza than did normal children. The environmental stimuli of birth and entering school were both marked by dramatic increases in IgA levels. Age-matched children from Papua New Guinea had 2-3 times higher IgA levels than Australian children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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