Sequential nasopharyngeal secretions were collected from 81 infants from one day to three months after admission to hospital with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. Samples from 21 infants were assayed for anti-RSV IgE in an antigen capture ELISA assay. No IgE antibodies were detected although an assay of IgA antibodies carried out in parallel by a similar technique detected IgA antibodies in the secretions of all patients tested. Neither prior absorption of IgA or IgG, concentration of the secretions by freeze drying, nor enzyme amplification of the assay revealed any virus specific IgE. Using an antibody capture ELISA with a sensitivity of 0.85 IU/ml, IgE could be detected in sequential secretions of only one of the 81 RSV infected infants studied. Further testing of the secretions from 12 of these patients and those of a further 15 using an enzyme amplified assay with a sensitivity of 0.1 IU/ml revealed no further positives. Low concentrations of IgE were found in the sera of the majority of infants with RSV infection but they did not differ from those of virus negative children of a similar age collected between RSV epidemics. No rise in mean serum IgE concentrations between acute and convalescent samples was observed. No virus specific IgE was detected in the sera of any infant using the enzyme amplified antigen capture ELISA.
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