Antibodies to several food proteins were detected in the serum of 13 out of 20 malnourished children. Antibody activity was found mainly in the IgG and IgA classes. On ingestion of food items to which antibodies were demonstrated, no untoward symptom occurred nor was complement activation observed in vivo. It is suggested that food antibodies in malnourished children result from atrophied gut mucosa and reduced secretory immune response, which permit passage of intact or incompletely digested protein molecules, and impaired phagocytic function of hepatic reticuloendothelial system. Such antibodies do not appear to play any immediate immunopathological role.
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