Staphylococcal superantigens (SAG) are implicated in the inflammation of atopic dermatitis.As SAG mediated diseases may be modified by specific antibodies, the antibody response to SAG in atopic dermatitis was investigated. Immunoglobulin (Ig) G to staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA), staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), and toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) were measured by sandwich enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 74 children with atopic dermatitis and 111 controls. Controls had detectable IgG to SEA, SEB, and TSST-1, which increased with age. Atopic dermatitis subjects had an increased response to SEB at 6 months to 2 years (76% v 42%) and 2 to 7 years (79% v 57%), and equivalent responses to SEA and TSST-1, compared to controls. It is suggested that increased responses to SEB relate to increased colonisation and hence exposure to superantigen producing staphylococcus in atopic dermatitis, and that inflammation of atopic dermatitis is not caused by an inability to make antibody to SAG.
(Arch Dis Child 1998;79:400-404)