Antibody response of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) targets the viral nucleocapsid

J Infect Dis. 2004 Jul 15;190(2):379-86. doi: 10.1086/422040. Epub 2004 Jun 16.


The recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) provided an opportunity to study the antibody response of infected individuals to the causative virus, SARS coronavirus. We examined serum samples obtained from 46 patients with SARS, 40 patients with non-SARS pneumonia, and 38 healthy individuals, by use of Western blotting (WB), enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA), and immunofluorescence assay, using both native and bacterially produced antigens of the virus. We found a highly restricted, immunoglobulin G-dominated antibody response in patients with SARS, directed most frequently (89% by ELISA) and predominantly at the nucleocapsid. Almost all of the subjects without SARS had no antinucleocapsid antibodies. The spike protein was the next most frequently targeted, but only 63% of the patients (by ELISA) responded. Other targets of the response identified by use of WB included antigens of 80 and 60 kDa. Several nonstructural proteins cloned were not antigenic, and the culture-derived nucleocapsid appeared to be specifically degraded.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Child
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nucleocapsid / immunology*
  • SARS Virus / immunology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / immunology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • spike glycoprotein, SARS-CoV