Application of the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for the Serodiagnosis of Human African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)

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  • Laboratory of Pathology, National Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 1, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the serodiagnosis of human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is described. A crude extract of a Trypanosoma brucei suspension which was purified from all blood components was used as antigen. In rabbits experimentally infected with T. brucei or T. rhodesiense both homologous (anti-T. brucei) and heterologous (anti-T. rhodesiense) Trypanosoma antibodies could be detected with ELISA using T. brucei as antigen. The sensitivity of ELISA was comparable with that of the immunofluorescence (IF) technique. Sera of patients with sleeping sickness were examined with ELISA and IF. It proved possible to discriminate between groups of individuals with and without trypanosomiasis. Cross reactions were only observed with serum from a patient in which antibodies to Leishmania were detected. No cross reactions were observed in sera from patients with malaria, toxoplasmosis, schistosomiasis, or echinococcosis. ELISA represents a good alternative to IF in the serology of African trypanosomiasis, and may be particularly suitable for mass screening purposes.