Longitudinal study of the antibody response to recombinant Entamoeba histolytica antigens in patients with amebic liver abscess.

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  • 1 Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.

Serology is a critical component in the diagnosis of amebic liver abscess. However, in areas endemic for amebiasis there is a high background level of seropositivity for amebiasis (owing to previous infection with Entamoeba histolytica), which may complicate the interpretation of a positive serologic test result. Recently, we reported that serologic tests based on recombinant E. histolytica antigens might offer improved diagnosis of current invasive amebiasis because they apparently differentiated active infection from past exposure to the parasite. To confirm this finding, we have performed a longitudinal study on 20 patients with amebic liver abscess by examining their seroreactivity over time with recombinant versions of two major E. histolytica proteins, the serine rich E. histolytica protein (SREHP), and the 170-kD subunit of the galactose-specific adhesin. We found that more than 50% of the patients examined had become seronegative by one or both recombinant tests within 180 days of their diagnosis of amebic liver abscess. In the case of the recombinant SREHP-based tests, 12 patients had become seronegative 90 days after presentation. In contrast, all patients remained seropositive by a standard conventional test, an indirect hemagglutination test, at more than six months after presentation. Our study shows that patients lose seroreactivity with the recombinant SREHP or 170-kD antigen-based tests more rapidly than with a conventional serologic test; this may make them useful for the serologic diagnosis of amebiasis in endemic areas.