Specific and Cross-Reacting Antibodies in Human Responses to Onchocerca volvulus and Dracunculus medinensis Infections

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  • National Institute for Medical Research, CAICET, University of Hawaii at Manoa, John A. Burns School of Medicine, London, England

Immunoelectroblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were used to identify non-cross-reacting antigenic components of Dracunculus medinensis and the filarial worms Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa, Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Mansonella ozzardi. Parasite specific serodiagnostic ELISA systems for onchocerciasis and dracunculiasis were devised based on these findings. Phosphate buffered saline extracts of adult worms were passed through a column of monoclonal antibodies to phosphorylcholine (PC). Crude and PC-depleted extracts were reacted on ELISA plates with individual sera from subjects infected with a range of nematodes. Binding of total antibody (Ig) or IgG class antibody and IgG4 subclass antibody was revealed using goat antihuman-Ig-phosphatase conjugate, or appropriate mouse monoclonal antihuman-Ig-type-specific reagents, followed by goat antimouse-Ig-phosphatase conjugate. Specificity of ELISA was improved by restricting reaction to the host's IgG4 antibody subclass, and/or by removing PC determinants from crude antigens. In parallel immunoelectroblots, crude and PC-depleted extracts probed with pooled sera showed potentially useful diagnostic antigens, including a 12 kDa protein from D. medinensis and 14, 18, and 27 kDa proteins from O. volvulus. Two Onchocerca specific ELISA systems non-reactive with antibodies to D. medinensis were devised.