Measles virus protein-specific IgM, IgA, and IgG subclass responses during the acute and convalescent phase of infection

J Med Virol. 2004 Feb;72(2):290-8. doi: 10.1002/jmv.10553.


The availability of new generation serological assays allowed re-evaluation of the antibody response to measles virus. IgM, IgA, total IgG, and IgG subclass responses were studied to the three major immunogenic measles virus proteins: the fusion protein (F), haemagglutinin (H), and nucleoprotein (N). Plasma samples were obtained from clinically diagnosed measles cases (n = 146) in Khartoum (Sudan) within a week after onset of the rash. Convalescent phase samples were collected from 32 of 117 laboratory-confirmed measles cases at different time points after onset of rash. Glycoprotein-specific IgM, IgG, and IgA antibody levels correlated well to the N-specific response. For IgG and IgA, responses to F were higher than to H. IgA antibody levels were undetectable in about one third of the laboratory-confirmed cases during the acute phase, but positive in all patients tested 1-4 weeks after infection. IgM levels declined rapidly and were lost 3-6 months after infection. IgA levels declined slowly during the first year but did not return to background levels during the subsequent 2 years. IgG avidity maturation was detected during a 3-6 month period after infection. The predominant IgG subclasses during the acute phase were IgG(1) and IgG(3). The latter was lost in the convalescent phase, while the IgG(4) isotype showed a slight rise afterwards. Interestingly, acute phase IgG(3) and IgA responses were associated, and were only detected in samples with high IgG. This study provides a comprehensive perspective on the antibody response to wild-type measles virus infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antibody Specificity*
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Infant
  • Measles / immunology*
  • Measles / virology
  • Measles virus / immunology*
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • Nucleoproteins / immunology
  • Viral Core Proteins / immunology
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / immunology
  • Viral Proteins / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • Nucleoproteins
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • Viral Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • hemagglutinin protein G, measles virus