Evaluation of confirmatory strategies for detection of type-specific antibodies against herpes simplex virus type 2

J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Feb;40(2):407-13. doi: 10.1128/JCM.40.2.407-413.2002.


In this study, the optimal combination of three commercial glycoprotein G-2 (gG-2)-based herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) type-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (Euroimmun anti-HSV-2 immunoglobulin G [IgG] ELISA [Eu2], Gull HSV-2-specific IgG ELISA [Gu2], and Radim HSV-2 IgG ELISA [Ra2]) and one gG-2-based HSV-2-specific immunoblot (Euroimmun anti-HSV-1/HSV-2 gG Western blot [EuW]) was determined with regard to diagnostic performance and cost efficiency. Two hundred fifty serum samples were included in this study, 194 of which were from female prostitutes. When a formal primary "gold standard" was defined based on majority agreement of the commercial tests, with EuW being decisive in stand-off situations, the sensitivity and specificity of the assays in the samples from prostitutes were as follows: Eu2, 100 and 89.22%; Gu2, 94.44 and 96.08%; Ra2, 61.18 and 95.10%; and EuW, 98.90 and 100%. The most cost-effective confirmatory strategy in the samples from prostitutes was screening with Eu2, retesting positive and equivocal samples with Gu2, and resolving the remaining discordant results with EuW (estimated additional costs per sample, 79.02%; sensitivity, 100%; positive predictive value, 96.81%). Applying a self-developed gG-2-independent assay to the discordant and concordant negative samples in the samples from prostitutes suggested that the primary gold standard may have missed six HSV-2-positive samples. In conclusion, confirmatory strategies based on commercial gG-2-dependent seroassays result in an increase in the specificity of HSV-2-specific serology. However, further improvement of the sensitivity of current HSV-2-specific serology may require the additional exploitation of the gG-2-independent type-specific antibody response.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antibody Specificity*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / economics
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting / economics
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Work
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Viral Envelope Proteins