Childhood asthma and measles vaccine response

Author(s): Juhn YJ, Kita H, Lee LA, Swanson RJ, Smith R, et al.


Background: Asthmatic patients have a TH2-predominant milieu that is associated with humoral immunity. However, little is known about whether humoral immune responses to viral antigens differ between asthmatic and nonasthmatic children.

Objective: To determine whether humoral immune response differs in asthmatic patients vs nonasthmatic patients.

Methods: Measles virus specific IgG antibody levels were determined for the Rochester Family Measles Study cohort (n = 876), a convenience sample of healthy children 5 to 12 years of age in Rochester, MN. We conducted comprehensive medical record reviews of 838 children who were eligible for this study. We determined the child's asthma status at the time of determination of antibody levels by applying predetermined criteria for asthma. Comparisons were made using the 2-sample t test or chi2 test.

Results: Of the 838 children, 156 (18.6%) had asthma at the time of the determination of antibody levels and were not taking systemic steroids within 14 days of specimen collection. Among those with a nonequivocal antibody reading, the seropositive response rates were similar in asthmatic patients and nonasthmatic patients (89.7% vs 90.3%, respectively; P = .83). However, the equivocal response rates were slightly higher among asthmatic patients than nonasthmatic patients (6.4% vs 4.7%, respectively).

Conclusion: Asthmatic children seem to have similar humoral immune responses to measles vaccine as those without asthma. Although the findings reassure health care practitioners, whether this finding is generalizable to other vaccines and whether asthmatic patients with low antibody levels have normal cell-mediated immunity need to be elucidated in future studies.

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