Detection of Circulating Parasite Antigen in Bancroftian Filariasis by Counterimmunoelectrophoresis

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  • * Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, Helminthology Division, National Institute of Communicable Diseases, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, India

We used counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIEP) with rabbit antibodies to Dirofilaria immitis and Brugia malayi to detect soluble filarial antigen in sera collected in a Wuchereria bancrofti-endemic area in South India. Filarial antigen was detected in 38 of 38 sera from microfilaremic patients, 3 of 48 sera from amicrofilaremic patients with lymphatic pathology, and 3 of 5 sera from former microfilaria carriers with negative blood examinations 6 months or more after diethylcarbamazine therapy. One of 32 endemic control sera, 0 of 35 nonendemic sera, and 0 of 20 B. malayi sera were positive. Antigenemia was equally detectable in sera collected at night or during the day (when microfilariae are absent from the blood). Parasite antigen was also detected in the urine of patients with positive serum tests. Antibodies to circulating filarial antigen (also detected by CIEP) were absent in all but 2 antigen-positive sera but present in 22 of 45 antigen-negative sera from clinical filariasis patients and in 9 of 31 antigen-negative sera from endemic controls. Parasite antigen detection by CIEP appears to be a sensitive, specific, and practical diagnostic test for active W. bancrofti infection.