Impact of Placental Malaria and Hypergammaglobulinemia on Transplacental Transfer of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Antibody in Papua New Guinea

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Background. Passively acquired respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) neutralizing antibody protects against RSV-associated lower respiratory infections, but placental malaria (PM) and maternal hypergammaglobulinemia might interfere with transplacental immunoglobulin transport.

Methods. We measured RSV plaque-reduction neutralization (PRN) antibody in 300 full-term maternal/cord serum pairs in 2 cohorts in malaria-endemic Papua New Guinea: Alexishafen (2005–2008) and the Fetal Immunity Study (FIS) (2011–2013). We defined impaired transport as a cord-to-maternal titer ratio <1.0 and a protective RSV PRN titer (PRNT) ≥1:200.

Results. PM and hypergammaglobulinemia occurred in 60% and 54% of Alexishafen mothers versus 8% and 9% of FIS mothers, respectively. 34% of Alexishafen and 32% of FIS pairs demonstrated impaired transport. Multivariate modeling revealed significant associations between increasing maternal IgG (log2) and impaired transport (adjusted OR, Alexishafen: 2.68 [1.17–6.14], FIS: 6.94 [1.94–24.8]) but no association with PM. 34% of Alexishafen and 31% of FIS cord PRNTs were <1:200.

Conclusions. Impaired RSV antibody transport was observed in approximately one-third of maternal/cord pairs. Hypergammaglobulinemia, but not PM, was associated with impaired transport, particularly among women with low RSV PRNT. Detection of RSV PRNT <1:200 in one-third of cord sera confirms the need to increase levels of RSV neutralizing antibody in pregnant women through maternal immunization.

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