Varying titres of secretory IgA antibodies to poliovirus type 1 were found previously in the milk of unvaccinated, lactating Pakistani mothers during two different years, reflecting the antigenic exposure on mucosal membranes. To study further the changes in the extent and the form of antigenic exposure reflected in the human milk, human milk samples from Pakistani, Indian, Japanese, and Swedish mothers were collected. The quality and the neutralising capacity of the antibodies was also studied. Secretory IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies to poliovirus type 1 were determined using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and relative affinity was measured in ELISA by elution with potassium thiocyanide. Microneutralisation tests were also performed. The higher secretory IgA antibody titres to poliovirus type 1 in the unvaccinated, naturally exposed Pakistani and Indian mothers' milk, compared with the Swedish and Japanese mothers, presumably reflect the epidemiological situation in these countries. Neutralising capacity and the relative antibody affinity seemed to be higher both in the Pakistani mothers and the group without natural exposure but only given inactivated poliovirus vaccine, that is the Swedish mothers, than the group meeting only live vaccine strains, that is the Japanese mothers.
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