It is unknown why some infants wheeze during upper respiratory tract infections. One possibility is that secretory IgA, which has a major role in mucosal defence against viral infection, might be deficient in wheezy infants. The nasal IgA response to upper respiratory tract infection in 32 wheezy infants (median age 5.8 months) was compared with nine siblings (median age 2.6 years) who had nasal symptoms only. Nasal lavage was performed during infections and on follow up when free from symptoms, using inulin as a marker of dilution to determine absolute concentrations of IgA in the nasal secretions. The two groups showed a similar increase in total IgA and total protein levels during infection, but secretory IgA concentrations were unchanged. This study shows that wheezy infants have a normal nasal IgA response to infection and that the increase in total IgA during early infection is due to plasma exudation rather than increased production of secretory IgA.
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