Diagnostic value of serum antibodies in early Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis patients

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2007 Mar;42(3):249-55. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20562.


Specific serum antibodies could be helpful in defining the status of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection as well as the response to early intervention treatment in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). We used 1,791 serum samples from 375 European CF patients with known respiratory microbiology status to define titers of P. aeruginosa antibodies directed against alkaline protease (AP), elastase (ELA), and exotoxin A (ExoA). Pseudomonas antibody titers were also measured in a separate cohort of 56 patients undergoing antibiotic treatment for eradication of P. aeruginosa. At a specificity of 97.5%, the sensitivity was highest for antibodies against AP (85.4%), followed by ELA (76.2%) and ExoA (72.0%). AP, ELA, or ExoA antibody titers were significantly higher (P < 0.001) in patients chronically infected with P. aeruginosa compared to patients with negative cultures. The sensitivity of the combined three ELISAs was higher than that for any single ELISA alone. Based on the newly defined cut-off levels, positive serum antibody titers against at least one of the three antigens were present in 43% of patients with new onset of P. aeruginosa infection. Longitudinal assessment of antibody titers assessed before and after inhaled antibiotic therapy in patients with first P. aeruginosa isolation showed a significant decrease in antibody titers against AP and ExoA in patients clearing P. aeruginosa infection, whereas titers increased in patients in whom antibiotic therapy failed to eradicate the organism. Antibody testing against AP, ELA, and ExoA offers high sensitivity and specificity for the presence of P. aeruginosa in respiratory cultures of CF patients. Although serum antibody titers are on average low at the time of first P. aeruginosa isolation from respiratory specimens, they may be useful to monitor response to therapy. However, because variability between patients is considerable, treatment decisions should not be based on P. aeruginosa antibody levels alone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystic Fibrosis / blood*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pseudomonas Infections / blood
  • Pseudomonas Infections / complications*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / diagnosis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Bacterial