Concentrations of immunoglobulins and anti-Escherichia coli antibody were studied longitudinally in tracheobronchial aspirates from 33 premature intubated neonates, median gestational age 27 weeks. Aspirates collected at birth contained IgG, IgA, and IgM in 100%, 93%, and 79% of samples, respectively. The median IgA concentration at birth was 0.7 micrograms/mg total protein and increased to 5.8 micrograms/mg protein by the sixth week. IgG and IgM antibodies to E coli were present in 90% and 30%, respectively, of tracheobronchial aspirates collected at birth. Samples from three of 28 neonates (11%) contained IgA anti-E coli antibody at birth, and the proportion with IgA antibody rose to 50% during the sixth week. Secretory component associated IgA and IgM were detectable in samples tested at birth and at 4 weeks of age, and secretory component associated anti-E coli antibody was present in aspirates from three of nine neonates studied at 4 weeks of age, but had not been detectable at birth.
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