An Immunoassay for the Detection of Circulating Antigens in Human Echinococcosis

Bruno GottsteinDepartment of Parasitology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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An immunoassay (double-antibody-sandwich-ELISA) was developed to detect circulating antigens (CAg) in patients with cystic (Echinococcus granulosus) echinococcosis. Echinococcus antigens derived from heterologous intermediate hosts were used to immunize rabbits and to purify the rabbit-IgG-fraction obtained by affinity-chromatography, thus avoiding major interference with host components. The purified rabbit antihydatid IgG was immunosorbed with bovine and human sera. One part of the resulting IgG served as coating agent in a double antibody sandwich-ELISA; the other part, coupled to alkaline phosphatase, as detecting conjugate. The specificity of the antibody reaction was demonstrated by immunoelectrophoresis. Sera of 21 patients with cystic echinococcosis were examined with this test system. In seven of the patients' sera CAg were detected in concentrations ranging between 310 ng and 680 ng protein per ml serum. Comparing pre-and postoperative serum samples obtained from nine patients operated on for cystic echinococcosis, four sera were found to be CAg-positive before and three after operation.