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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1995 Nov;2(6):704-7.

Nasopharyngeal antibodies to pneumococcal pneumolysin in children with acute otitis media.

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  • 1National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Pneumolysin, an intracellular protein toxin of all clinically relevant pneumococcal serotypes, is released in vivo during the autolysis of pneumococci and is believed to pave the way for intact pneumococci to invade and cause disease. Therefore, antibodies to pneumolysin should prevent its destructive function. We measured antibodies to pneumococcal pneumolysin in acute- and convalescent-phase nasopharyngeal aspirate samples of 120 children (median age, 2.5 years) with acute otitis media by enzyme immunoassay. Nasopharyngeal immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG class antibodies to pneumolysin were rarely detectable, whereas IgA class antibody was detected often, occurred independently of serum IgA antibody in serum, and correlated with the presence of the secretory component in pneumococcal antibody, indicating local production of IgA antibodies. Nasopharyngeal IgA antibody to pneumolysin was detected in 93% of the children already in the acute phase of otitis. Twenty percent of the children developed at least a threefold rise in the pneumolysin-specific IgA antibody concentration by the convalescent phase of otitis, with the youngest at 6 months of age, regardless of the pneumococcal findings in the nasopharynx or middle ear fluid. We suggest that nasopharyngeal IgA antibody to pneumolysin can be produced early in life by pneumococcal colonization.

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