Immune response of the host

Patients with Campylobacter enteritis produce a rapid circulating antibody response. These antibodies have complement fixing, bactericidal and agglutinating properties. The initial specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) response is produced by the 8th day of infection and is relatively short lived. This is followed by a rapid serum polymeric and monomeric IgA response, which peaks at about 2 weeks after onset of symptoms but disappears by the 5th week. The IgG antibodies are detectable within 10 days of the illness and persist for several months. The short illness generally associated with Campylobacter enteritis suggests that these antibodies are effective at limiting infection. The antibody responses form the basis of a serologic test for the retrospective diagnosis of infection using ELISA, with an acid-extractable surface antigen which primarily comprises flagellin.

Analysis of the antigenic specificity of the host immune responses shows that the immunodominant surface antigen is flagellin. Antibodies directed against this polypeptide are produced early in infection and may be protective. The MOMP is also immunogenic, during infection, in most patients. When present all these antibodies react against homologous and heterologous strains. LPSs appear to induce inconsistent antibody responses, which when present may be serotype specific.

Guillian-Barre syndrome is characterized by acute motor neuropathy, which appears to be a sequela of Campylobacter enteritis in about 50% of cases. Many patients with this disease have increased circulating IgG and IgM antibodies binding to GM1 and GDI ganglioside epitopes and which cross-react with LPS of certain serotypes of C. jejuni, especially types 0:19 and 0:4.

To date, T cell responses to the Campylobacters have been poorly investigated.

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