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, 85 (2), 173-82

Development of Em18-immunoblot and Em18-ELISA for Specific Diagnosis of Alveolar Echinococcosis


Development of Em18-immunoblot and Em18-ELISA for Specific Diagnosis of Alveolar Echinococcosis

Akira Ito et al. Acta Trop.


Extensive experience has documented that Em2(plus)-ELISA, Em10-ELISA and Em18-immunoblot and Em18-ELISA are reliable serologic methods for detection of alveolar echinococcosis (AE) caused by the metacestodes of Echinococcus multilocularis. Among these, tests based on detection of antibodies to the specific Em18 antigen, either immunoblot or ELISA, appears to be the most specific for AE. Between 90 and 97% of AE cases with characteristic hepatic lesions detectable by image analysis have been positive in Em18-serology. In contrast Antigen B (8 kDa)-immunoblot is the most sensitive for all forms of echinococcosis, although it can not differentiate AE from cystic echinococcosis (CE). Primary serologic screening for echinococcosis, especially for CE using hydatid cyst fluid of Echinococcus granulosus appears to be highly sensitive in endemic areas. Glycoproteins (GPs) purified from cyst fluid of Taenia solium are highly specific for diagnosis of T. solium neuorcysticercosis (NCC). Using currently available antigens it is not difficult to differentiate these three larval cestodiases serologically. We recommend that (1) primary screening of CE in endemic areas should be carried out using hydatid cyst fluid of E. granulosus prepared from cysts in either sheep, human or mouse for immunoblot and from sheep or mouse for ELISA, (2) both primary screening and confirmation of AE in endemic areas should be carried out using Em18-ELISA, Em18-immunoblot or Em2(plus)-ELISA. Serodiagnosis in areas where both AE and CE are endemic, such as in China, should be carried out as a combination of (1) and (2), and (3) serology of NCC should be carried out using GP-ELISA or GP-immunoblot. All samples showing antibody to Em18 are exclusively from echinococcosis cases. There have been no false positive test reactions with sera from other diseases. Strongest Em18 responders are all from patients with AE but some weaker responses may be found in sera of persons with advanced complex lesions of CE. These highly reliable serodiagnostic methods using native, recombinant and synthetic antigens are briefly summarized and experiences with these methods in Japan is reviewed. We believe that use of these specific antigens in screening and confirmation programs for AE in Japan will improve specificity and reduce the confusion, anxiety and expense in persons whose sera give false positive reactions with crude echinococcal antigens.

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