Using the indirect ELISA technique, the IgM, IgG, and IgA antibody response to the primary test immunogen Helix pomatia haemocyanin (HPH) was studied in 30 patients with various clinical stages of primary squamous-cell bronchial carcinoma and compared with values obtained in 15 controls matched for sex, age, smoking habit, and presence of chronic bronchitis. Patients with disseminated disease (stage III) showed a significant decrease in IgG and IgA antibody response (P less than 0.001), but IgM antibodies were relatively high and not different from the controls. Although normal IgG and IgA antibody titres were found at the peak response two weeks after immunisation in patients with localised disease (stage I), these antibody titres showed a significantly more rapid decline after serial investigations at eight and 14 weeks after immunisation compared with the controls (P less than 0.001) despite total removal of the tumour burden at c four weeks after immunisation. In-vitro HPH-induced lymphocyte transformation was considerably decreased in state I patients (P less than 0.01) as well as in stage III patients (P less than 0.001). The results suggest that patients with squamous-cell bronchial carcinoma develop impaired T-cell function, which gives rise to a defective antibody response and in-vitro lymphocyte reactivity to the T-cell dependent primary immunogen HPH.
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