Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antibody levels to tetanus, diphtheria, measles and varicella in patients with primary immunodeficiency undergoing intravenous immunoglobulin therapy: a prospective study

Fernanda Aimée Nobre*, Isabela Garrido da Silva Gonzalez*, Raquel Maria Simão, Maria Isabel de Moraes Pinto and Beatriz Tavares Costa-Carvalho

Author Affiliations

Federal University of Sao Paulo, Rua dos Otonis, 731, CEP: 04025-002 São Paulo, Brazil

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Immunology 2014, 15:26  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-15-26

Published: 21 June 2014



Patients with antibody deficiencies depend on the presence of a variety of antibody specificities in intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to ensure continued protection against pathogens. Few studies have examined levels of antibodies to specific pathogens in IVIG preparations and little is known about the specific antibody levels in patients under regular IVIG treatment. The current study determined the range of antibodies to tetanus, diphtheria, measles and varicella in IVIG products and the levels of these antibodies in patients undergoing IVIG treatment.


We selected 21 patients with primary antibody deficiencies who were receiving regular therapy with IVIG. Over a period of one year, we collected four blood samples from each patient (every 3 months), immediately before immunoglobulin infusion. We also collected samples from the IVIG preparation the patients received the month prior to blood collection. Antibody levels to tetanus, diphtheria, measles and varicella virus were measured in plasma and IVIG samples. Total IgG levels were determined in plasma samples.


Antibody levels to tetanus, diphtheria, varicella virus and measles showed considerable variation in different IVIG lots, but they were similar when compared between commercial preparations. All patients presented with protective levels of antibodies specific for tetanus, measles and varicella. Some patients had suboptimal diphtheria antibody levels. There was a significant correlation between serum and IVIG antibodies to all pathogens, except tetanus. There was a significant correlation between diphtheria and varicella antibodies with total IgG levels, but there was no significant correlation with antibodies to tetanus or measles.


The study confirmed the variation in specific antibody levels between batches of the same brand of IVIG. Apart from the most common infections to which these patients are susceptible, health care providers must be aware of other vaccine preventable diseases, which still exist globally.

Immunoglobulins; Intravenous; Antibody deficiency syndromes; Tetanus; Diphtheria; Measles; Chickenpox