Author(s): Harrison LM, Morris JA, Bishop LA, Lauder RM, Taylor CA,
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Abstract The common bacterial toxins hypothesis of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is that nasopharyngeal bacterial toxins can trigger events leading to death in infants with absent/low levels of antibody that can neutralise the toxins. The aim of this study was to investigate nasopharyngeal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus and determine levels of immunity in the first year of life to toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST-1) and staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC). Both toxins have been implicated in SIDS cases. Seventy-three mothers and their infants (39 males and 34 females) were enrolled onto the study. The infants had birth dates spread evenly throughout the year. In infants, S. aureus carriage decreased significantly with age (P<0.001). Between 40\% and 50\% of infants were colonised with S. aureus in the first three months of life and 49\% of the isolates produced one or both of the staphylococcal toxins. There was a significant correlation between nasopharyngeal carriage of S. aureus in mothers and infants in the three months following the birth (P<0.001). Carriage of S. aureus in infants and their mothers was not significantly associated with levels of antibody to TSST-1 or SEC in cord blood, adult saliva or breast milk. Infants colonised by S. aureus had higher levels of salivary IgA to TSST-1 than infants who were culture negative. Analysis of cord blood samples by a quantitative ELISA detected IgG bound to TSST-1 and SEC in 95.5\% and 91.8\% of cases respectively. There was a marked variation in levels of maternal IgG to both TSST-1 and SEC among cord blood samples. Maternal age, birth weight, and seasonality significantly affected the levels of IgG binding to TSST-1 or SEC. Analysis of infant saliva samples detected IgA to TSST-1 and SEC in the first month after birth; 11\% of samples tested positive for salivary IgA to TSST-1 and 5\% for salivary IgA to SEC. By the age of two months these proportions had increased to 36\% and 33\% respectively. More infants who used a dummy tested positive for salivary IgA to TSST-1 compared to infants who did not use a dummy. Levels of IgA to TSST-1 and SEC detected in the breast-milk samples varied greatly among mothers. There was a trend for infants receiving breast milk with low levels of antibody to TSST-1 or SEC to have higher levels of salivary antibody to the toxins. In conclusion, passive immunity to toxins implicated in SIDS cases varies greatly among infants. Infants are able to mount an active mucosal immune response to TSST-1 and SEC in the first month of life.
This article was published in FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics