Passive immunity acquisition of maternal anti-enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 IgG antibodies by the newborn

Eur J Pediatr. 2007 May;166(5):413-9. doi: 10.1007/s00431-006-0250-9. Epub 2006 Oct 21.


Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains are among the main causes of haemorrhagic colitis (HC) and haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) in industrialised countries. In Brazil, EHEC have been detected in the faeces of patients with non-bloody diarrhoea, though an association between EHEC and HUS has been detected recently. These observations suggest that there is a pre-existing immunity triggered by the contact with EHEC and other categories of bacteria, such as EPEC, that share similar virulence factors and to which our population is highly exposed. Our aim was to evaluate the placental transfer of IgG antibodies reactive to EHEC O157:H7 antigens. We evaluated 28 paired maternal and cord sera for the presence of IgG against EHEC O157:H7 protein antigens and IgG and IgM to O157 LPS employing ELISA and IB technique. Total IgG and IgM level analyses were also made. Anti-EHEC O157:H7 and anti-LPS O157 IgG antibody levels in cord sera were equivalent to those of their maternal sera. A good correlation between the mothers' anti-LPS O157 IgM and total IgM levels was found. Anti-LPS O157 IgM levels were higher than anti-LPS O157 IgG levels in the same samples, and anti-LPS IgM antibodies were not detected in cord sera. Identical patterns of recognition of bacterial protein antigens by specific IgG were found in the paired samples and the recombinant purified variable region of gamma intimin was specifically recognized by one paired maternal and cord sample. In conclusion, although the antibody profile varied among individuals, all paired cord and maternal serum samples showed an identical recognition pattern, indicating an efficient placental transfer of IgG antibodies reactive to EHEC O157:H7 antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Brazil
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Escherichia coli / immunology*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired / immunology*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology*
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Lipopolysaccharides