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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2007 Jul;14(7):855-62. Epub 2007 May 16.

Opsonophagocytic activity and other serological indications of Bordetella pertussis infection in military recruits in Norway.

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Division of Infectious Disease Control, Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.


Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of pertussis (whooping cough). Despite high vaccination coverage, pertussis remains a significant disease in many countries. Besides vaccination, transient carriage of Bordetella spp. or other cross-reacting organisms adds to the immunity against pertussis. However, the various immunological mechanisms conferring protection remain largely unknown. In this study, paired serum samples from 464 healthy Norwegian military recruits were collected, the first at enrolment and the second about 8 months later. The prevalence of pertussis during military service was examined by comparing the paired serum samples for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against pertussis toxin (PT) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Seventy-eight percent of the recruits had low levels of IgG antibodies against PT in both samples. Conversely, 8.4% of the recruits demonstrated high anti-PT IgG levels in the first sample, indicative of recent pertussis prior to enrolment. One recruit experienced seroconversion, indicating pertussis during service. A subset of 248 serum samples with low, medium, and high anti-PT IgG titers were analyzed by a different ELISA kit for IgG and IgA antibodies against PT and filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) and for opsonophagocytic activity (OPA), for induction of C3b deposition products, and for IgG binding with live B. pertussis as the antigen. We observed high correlations between OPA and IgG against live bacteria (r = 0.83), between OPA and IgG anti-FHA (r = 0.79), between OPA and anti-PT IgG (r = 0.68), and between OPA and C3b binding (r = 0.70) (P < 0.0001 for all). Anti-PT IgA did not correlate closely with the other assays.

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