Antibody-dependent enhancement of respiratory syncytial virus infection by sera from young infants

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1994 Nov;1(6):670-7. doi: 10.1128/cdli.1.6.670-677.1994.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) convalescent-phase sera and control sera from both infants ( < 6 months) and older individuals (1.5 to 90 years) were assayed for RSV-specific antibodies by neutralization, in vitro enhancing activity, and immunoprecipitation. Enhancement of RSV infection in U937 cells was demonstrated with convalescent-phase sera and was shown to be dependent on Fc receptors by blocking with human immunoglobulin G (P < 0.01). Convalescent-phase sera from infants enhanced infection at concentrations closer to physiological ones (10(-1) to 10(-3) dilutions of serum), while convalescent-phase sera from older individuals enhanced infection only at much lower concentrations (10(-3) to 10(-6) dilutions of serum; P < 0.01). To our knowledge, this is the first report of RSV-enhancing antibody activity in the sera of infants. The observed enhancing activity and the low neutralizing antibody levels are confined mostly to convalescent-phase sera from infants aged 0 to 6 months, suggesting that these factors may contribute to the increased severity of RSV disease frequently encountered in young infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Indicator Dilution Techniques
  • Infant
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / immunology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / virology
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Viral Envelope Proteins