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Keywords:

  • Ascaris;
  • IgE;
  • anthelmint treatment;
  • reinfection;
  • polyclonal stimulation;
  • helminthic infection

SUMMARY

Total and Ascaris-specific serum IgE levels were measured in a group of 98 Ascaris-infected children from a slum area of Caracas. Venezuela, in whom the infections were eliminated by regular treatment for 22 months with the anthelmint Oxantel/ Pyrantel (‘Quanlrel’). The children were re-evalualed at the end of the treatment programme, and then 8 months later, at which time reinfection was assessed. Total IgE levels at the beginning of the study were significantly higher in the children who became reinfected after treatment. compared with those who did not. The anthelmint treatment caused a significant decrease in the tolal IgE levels in most of the children, and after a period of 8 months without treatment these continued to decrease in the non-reinfected group, but increased again in the reinfected children. The reverse pattern was found for Ascaris-specific IgE antibody levels, and in fact an inverse correlation was found between total and anti-Ascaris IgE levels. Striking associations were found between reinfection and high pretreatment values of total IgE, but low levels of specific IgE antibody. These data support the concept that specific IgE antibody may participate in the protection against helminthic infection, and suggest that the polyclonal stimulation of IgE synthesis caused by these parasites may reduce the effectiveness of such responses. The results also indicate that different individuals have varying propensities to respond polyclonally to the helminths, and this influences their resistance to infection.