Antibody levels to streptococcal Group A and A-variant carbohydrates were determined using a radioactive immune precipitation technique on patients with rheumatic fever, with and without valvular disease, on patients with post-streptococcal acute glomerulonephritis, and on age-matched controls. During the acute phase of the above illness, the means of the antibody levels to both carbohydrate antigens were equally elevated and were significantly higher than the normal controls. When Group A antibody levels were determined on sera obtained at intervals of 5–12 months and 1–5 yr after the acute illness) it was found that the antibody levels declined within the normal range at the 5–12 month interval in patients with glomerulonephritis as well as in patients with rheumatic fever in whom no valvular involvement had complicated the disease, i.e., patients with pure Sydenham's chorea. However, in patients with rheumatic valvulitis, who had been on penicillin prophylaxis after the last acute episode, the A antibody level showed little decline from the level obtained during the acute illness. The elevated antibody level in patients with rheumatic valvulitis, including patients with Sydenham's chorea with valvulitis, persisted for periods of at least 1 yr and up to 20 yr after the last acute attack. The pattern of the decline of the antibody levels to the A-variant carbohydrate as well as of the antibody titers to the other streptococcal antigens tested, ASO and anti-DNase B, was similar in all patients studied regardless of the presence of valvular disease. These findings suggest that prolonged persistence of the Group A antibody is a phenomenon peculiar to patients with rheumatic valvular disease. Whether this persistence is involved in the pathogenesis or is an outcome of the valvular disease remains to be determined.

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