Journal Article

Specific Immunoglobulin A Antibodies in Maternal Milk and Delayed <i>Helicobacter pylori</i> Colonization in Gambian Infants

Julian E. Thomas, James E. G. Bunn, Harry Kleanthous, Thomas P. Monath, Marilyn Harding, W. Andrew Coward and Lawrence T. Weaver

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 8, pages 1155-1160
Published in print October 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online October 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/424514
Specific Immunoglobulin A Antibodies in Maternal Milk and Delayed Helicobacter pylori Colonization in Gambian Infants

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Background. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in maternal milk may protect Gambian infants from early Helicobacter pylori colonization. This study sought evidence that this protection could be due to specific IgA antibodies.

Methods. Sixty-five infants were screened from 12 weeks of age with [13C]-urea breath tests. Antibodies in maternal milk were measured to determine total IgA content and to detect specific IgA antibodies against crude whole-cell and recombinant H. pylori urease antigen preparations.

Results. Ten children (15%) had no evidence of early H. pylori colonization, 10 (15%) had early H. pylori colonization, and 43 (66%) had mixed results. Levels of maternal circulating specific immunoglobulin G, total milk IgA, and IgA directed against crude whole-cell H. pylori antigen preparation were not significantly associated with the rate of infant H. pylori colonization. However, mothers of infants with no evidence of early colonization produced significantly higher levels of anti—recombinant urease IgA antibodies in milk than did control mothers, particularly at 8, 16, and 20 weeks postpartum (P < .01).

Conclusions. These observations support the hypothesis that antibodies in mother's milk directed against H. pylori urease can protect against colonization in human infancy.

Journal Article.  4398 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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