Following primary human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, virus-specific IgG antibody shift from low to high avidity with individual variations in the rate of avidity maturation. The kinetics of the avidity maturation of IgG specific for HCMV nuclear antigen in pregnant women with primary infection was investigated. Absorbance values used for avidity index calculation of 286 sequential sera collected from 69 pregnant women with primary HCMV infection were retrieved. Percent difference in absorbance values of IgG antibody bound to the solid phase after urea treatment (IgG avidity) between early (T1, 0-90, median 31 days) and late (T2, 91-180, median 136 days) serum samples was calculated for each woman. Three groups of women were identified: 24/69 (34.8%) women showed high (>100%) avidity increase between T1 and T2 (pattern H), 29/69 (42%) low (<50%) increase (pattern L), and 16/69 (23.2%) intermediate increase (pattern I). Avidity values in T1 samples were significantly higher in women with pattern L compared to women with pattern H (P=0.01). Altogether, 28/69 (40.6%) women transmitted HCMV infection to their fetuses. Fetal infection preferentially occurred (P<0.01) in women with pattern H (15/24, 62.5%) compared with women with pattern L (7/29, 24.1%). In conclusion, different patterns of IgG avidity maturation can be detected following primary HCMV infection. Pregnant women with pattern H (rapid IgG avidity increase) appear to be at higher risk for fetal infection, whereas, pregnant women developing early antibody with high avidity appear to be at a lower risk of vertical transmission.
Keywords: IgG avidity; congenital HCMV infection; pregnancy.
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