Acquisition of IgG serum antibodies against two Bordetella antigens (filamentous hemagglutinin and pertactin) in children with no symptoms of pertussis

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1995 Jun;14(6):517-21. doi: 10.1097/00006454-199506000-00009.


To study the specificity of serum antibodies against filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) and pertactin for infection with Bordetella pertussis, we followed the acquisition of IgG serum antibodies against these 2 surface proteins of the organism in children who had been vaccinated with a monocomponent pertussis toxoid vaccine and who had experienced no symptoms of pertussis. Antibodies were estimated with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In Part 1 of our study 5 consecutive samples obtained between 3 and 36 months of age from 71 children were available. Most had maternally derived antibodies to FHA (70 of 71) and pertactin (51 of 71) in the 3-month sera which declined in the subsequent sera. From about 1 year of age there were small but significant increases in antibodies against both antigens. At 3 years of age 71 of 71 had antibodies to FHA and 58 of 71 had antibodies to pertactin. In Part 2 of our study sera from 109 three-year old children were available. The 12 children with a history of family exposure to pertussis had significantly higher geometric mean titers of FHA antibodies than the 97 children with no history of family exposure. The geometric mean titers of pertactin antibodies did not differ. We suggest 3 explanations for the acquisition of FHA and pertactin antibodies in children with no history of pertussis: (1) asymptomatic B. pertussis infection in vaccinated children; (2) infection with Bordetella parapertussis; (3) infection with cross-reacting antigens from other organisms, e.g., nonencapsulated Haemophilus influenzae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Adhesins, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hemagglutinins / analysis*
  • Hemagglutinins / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis*
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology*
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vaccination*
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella*
  • Whooping Cough / immunology
  • Whooping Cough / physiopathology
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Pertussis Vaccine
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella
  • filamentous hemagglutinin adhesin, Bordetella pertussis
  • pertactin