[Immunology] What causes maternal antibodies to break down in a newborn?

Oscar Martinez Arias via immuno%40net.bio.net (by oscar.martinez from syva.es)
Mon Dec 15 01:42:34 EST 2008

Hi, Alan.

The maternal antibodies decrease gradually becuse of their cathabolism, just
as the antibodies that are injected into the patients treated with
serotherapy. That is the reason for their short live, in both cases. It is
not probable that those antibodies cause an immune response. 

Óscar Martínez.
-----Mensaje original-----
De: immuno-bounces from oat.bio.indiana.edu
[mailto:immuno-bounces from oat.bio.indiana.edu] En nombre de Alan Bradbury
Enviado el: viernes, 12 de diciembre de 2008 10:36
Para: immuno from magpie.bio.indiana.edu
Asunto: [Immunology] What causes maternal antibodies to break down in

I hope somebody can help with this.
A recent exam question for A level (16-18 year olds) in the UK had a
question asking why passive immunity in newborns is short lived.  The answer
expected was that a newborn will recognise the maternal antibodies as
foreign and have an immune response to them.  This just didn't sound right
to me. I have tried to do some internet research on the question and it
seems that the half-life of maternal antibodies is about 30 - 45 days. But I
have not been able to find out what causes the removal of the maternal
antibodies. I had assumed that it was just due to the natural turnover and
breakdown of the antibodies that the infant might receive from its mother.
Am I right, or is the exam answer right?
Alan Bradbury (A level Biology teacher, UK).

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