A low level of naturally occurring antibodies associates with functional antibody deficiency

Jens Magnus Bernth Jensen*, Anette Tarp Hansen, Anna Söderström, Charlotte Sværke Jørgensen, Carsten Schade Larsen, Uffe B Skov Sørensen, Steffen Thiel, Mikkel Steen Petersen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Functional antibody deficiency is clinically assessed from antibody responses to vaccination. However, diagnostic vaccination is complex and may fail in practice. We hypothesized that the levels of naturally occurring antibodies against galactose-α-1,3-galactose (αGal) may represent alternative markers of functional antibody capacity. We included data from 229 patients with suspected primary immunodeficiency in a retrospective study. Antibody levels against αGal and twelve pneumococcal serotypes were determined with solid-phase immunoassays. Pneumococcal vaccinations and treatment with normal human immunoglobulin were assessed from medical records. Anti-αGal antibody levels correlated positively with anti-pneumococcal antibody levels measured before and after pneumococcal vaccination. Contrary to the anti-pneumococcal antibody levels, the anti-αGal antibody level showed potential for predicting subsequent immunoglobulin treatment - a marker of disease severity. Naturally occurring antibodies may reflect the functional capacity tested by diagnostic vaccination but add more useful clinical data. The clinical utility of this easy test should be evaluated in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109070
JournalClinical Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Galactose
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vaccination


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