We previously established, using an ELISA, the presence of specific antibodies directed at human papillomavirus (HPV) type 11 virions in the sera of patients with condylomata acuminata, mostly a disease of young adults that, like recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), is caused by two closely related HPVs, types 6 and 11. The present study was done to investigate if children with RRP can make viral-specific antibodies to an infection that is acquired at birth. Using the same ELISA, we studied the sera of 32 children with biopsy-documented juvenile-onset RRP and compared them to the sera of 31 control children. The median (and interquartile range) of the OD values in the controls and the cases was 0.078 (0.003, 0.101) and 0.230 (0.063, 0.725), respectively, a statistically significant difference (P = 0.001). Among the cases, there was no difference in seroreactivity between children with HPV-11-induced RRP and those with HPV-6-induced RRP (P = 0.31). Since HPV-11 viral particles do bind to the ELISA plate and remain intact and accessible to antibodies, we conclude that children with RRP, like adults with condylomata acuminata, develop antibodies directed at HPV-11 virions.
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