Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

The influence of local antichlamydial antibody on the acquisition and persistence of human ocular chlamydial infection: IgG antibodies are not protective

R. L. Baileya1, M. Kajbafa2, H. C. Whittlea3, M. E. Warda2 and D. C. W. Mabeya1 c1

a1 1Department of Clinical Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT

a2 2University Department of Microbiology, General Hospital, Southampton

a3 3Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia


In order to study the effect of antichlamydial antibodies in ocular secretions on resistance to ocular chlamydial infection and clearance of this infection, we have performed linked longitudinal studies in a Gambian village in which trachoma is endemic. We have measured IgG and IgA antibody levels to a local serotype B isolate of Chlamydia trachomatis by amplified enzyme immunoassay, and chlamydial antigen levels in conjunctival swabs using a commercially available immunoassay which detects chlamydial glycolipid. Having previously demonstrated that sharing a bedroom with a case of active trachoma is a risk factor for acquisition of the disease, we have analysed the effect of IgG and IgA antibody on the acquisition and persistance of clinical trachoma after controlling for age, sex, exposure to infection and for the presence of chlamydial antigen using a Poisson regression model. We have found that the presence of antichlamydial IgG in ocular secretions of disease-free subjects is associated with an increased incidence of trachoma. IgA antibody shows an opposite trend, but this is not statistically significant. One possible explanation of these findings is that antichlamydial IgG antibodies enhance the infectivity of C. trachomatis for the human eye; this could have major implications for the development of a chlamydial vaccine.

(Accepted April 27 1993)


c1 *Dr D. Mabey, Department of Clinical Sciences, LSHTM.