The population of Erechim, Southern Brazil, is characterized by a high incidence of ocular toxoplasmosis, which is presumed to be of acquired origin. We wished to compare the local specific humoral immune response of individuals from this region with that of Swiss patients suffering from the same disease. Paired samples of aqueous humor and serum were withdrawn from 27 Brazilian and 50 Swiss patients presenting consecutively with active ocular toxoplasmosis. The total and specific levels of IgG in each of these were determined. The populations did not differ with respect either to age or sex. The serum levels of total IgG in Brazilian (10.8 g/l) and Swiss patients (11.1 g/l) were similar (p = 0.499), but the aqueous humor ones were higher in the former group (95 vs. 20 mg/l; p = 0.0001). The systemic and local levels of specific IgG were likewise higher in Brazilian patients [206 i.u. vs. 72 i.u. (p = 0.001) and 14 i.u. vs. 4 i.u. (p = 0.005), respectively] and the number of individuals without detectable levels of local specific IgG was correspondingly lower (11% vs. 54%; p = 0.0005). The Goldmann-Witmer coefficient (an index of local specific antibody production) did not differ between Brazilian and Swiss patients (2.1 vs. 0.08, respectively; p = 0.107). Our findings are indicative of a more pronounced uveovascular barrier breakdown in Brazilians than in Swiss patients with active ocular toxoplasmosis. That the systemic and local specific immune response is weaker in Swiss than in Brazilian patients has not been hitherto documented. This finding may reflect differences in the immunological handling of the infection.
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