A radioimmunoassay (RIA) originally designed to measure antibody responses to Trypanosoma cruzi in mice was adapted for use in the immunodiagnosis of Chagas' disease in humans. The assay utilizes biotinylated antibodies and 3H-avidin as the tracer molecules, and has proven to be both safe and sensitive. Results using the RIA and those from direct agglutination and indirect fluorescent antibody tests were comparable in most cases. Using the RIA, we were able to discriminate between mice infected with T. cruzi and Trypanosoma rangeli. Also, sera from Leishmania-infected individuals do not have detectable levels of antibodies capable of binding to T. cruzi. Intact, fixed epimastigotes of T. cruzi are used as the detecting antigen in the RIA and give results comparable to those obtained with intact trypomastigotes.
Supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.