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Summary: In 187 healthy subjects from 2 months to 27 years of age, secretory IgA and free secretory component were assayed in samples of whole saliva obtained before and after stimulation with lemon juice. Antibody tilers against Escherichia coli O antigens and against rabbit erythrocytes were also dosed in unstimulated saliva. Secretory IgA, undetectable in newborns, was present in all 2-month-olds tested in both unstimulated and stimulated saliva; thereafter secretory IgA levels increased progressively, reaching adult values by 6 to 8 years in unstimulated saliva and already by 2 to 4 years in stimulated saliva. The antibody titers assessed in unstimulated saliva followed a similar pattern also reaching adult values by 6 to 8 years. On the other hand, free secretory component levels showed no significant variation with age in unstimulated saliva whereas a slight increase was observed in the first year of life in stimulated saliva.

Speculation The physiologic deficiency of SIgA and of secretory antibodies in infancy and childhood might well play a role in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract frequent in this age group.

(C) International Pediatrics Research Foundation, Inc. 1980. All Rights Reserved.