Background: The goal of our study was to compare the following two methods of assessment of pertussis post-vaccination immunity: bacterial agglutination test and pertussis toxin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Methods: The study was carried out in Perm Region, Russia. We measured pertussis immunity using two serological methods: ELISA of IgG to pertussis toxin (PT) and the agglutination test (AT) among 135 children, in the age range from 2 months to 17 years old. The immunization schedule included four doses of DTwP: at 3, 4.5 and 6 months of age and a booster at 18 months. All participants were divided into six age groups.

Results: The percentage of samples with IgG level less than the detection limit in vaccinated children was 52.2%. The total seropositivity rate (the percent of children with agglutinin titres ≥1:160) in vaccinated children was 47.8%. Only a weak association was observed between agglutinin and anti-PT IgG titres (R = .3). Neither the primary nor the booster vaccination with DTwP influenced the IgG levels in children. Agglutinin titres significantly increased after vaccination and declined 5 years after the booster dose. Significant growth of IgG concentration was observed in 11-year-olds, indicating the presence of B. pertussis circulation in the childhood population.

Conclusions: Based on the obtained results and the results of other authors, we summarize that anti-PT ELISA should be carefully used to assess the population immunity to pertussis. Currently, there is neither a serological test that accurately determines the protection against pertussis nor a distinctive criterion of protection that can be applied in seroepidemiological studies.


Keywords: Agglutination; ELISA; immunity; pertussis; protection.