Serum immunoglobulin (Ig) G subclass levels were measured in a radial immunodiffusion assay in 25 leukemic patients before and after allogenic bone marrow transplantation. All patients received a conditioning regimen of busulfan and cyclophosphamide followed by infusion of marrow from an HLA-identical sibling. Intravenous infusions of a commercial Ig preparation were administered every 2 weeks until day 120 posttransplant. Nine patients developed pneumococcal infections at 6 months or greater posttransplant. Infection was associated with low levels or the absence of detectable serum IgG2 and IgG4. At the time of infection, 4 of 7 patients evaluated had undetectable IgG2, while 5 of 7 had undetectable levels of IgG4. After infection, none of the 8 patients evaluated had detectable levels of IgG2, and only 2 of 8 had detectable levels of IgG4. In contrast, all 16 patients without pneumococcal infection had IgG2 levels of 102 mg/dL or greater, and IgG4 levels of 20 mg/dL or greater. It appears that IgG2 and IgG4 subclass deficiencies after allogenic bone marrow transplantation contribute to susceptibility to pneumococcal infection. After pneumococcal infection, IgG2 and IgG4 levels remain low for a prolonged period and patients remain susceptible to infection by encapsulated organisms.

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