Background: Human coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV-HKU1) is a recently identified coronavirus with a global distribution and known to cause mainly respiratory infections.
Objectives: To investigate the seroepidemiology of HKU1 infections in our local population.
Study design: An ELISA-based IgG antibody detection assay using recombinant HCoV-HKU1 nucleocapsid and spike (S) proteins (genotype A) were developed for the diagnosis of CoV-HKU1 infections, Additionally, a neutralization antibody assay using the HCoV-HKU1 pseudotyped virus was developed to detect the presence of neutralizing antibodies in serum with antibody positivity in an S protein-based ELISA.
Results: Results of the recombinant S protein-based ELISA were validated with Western blot, immunofluorescence analysis and flow cytometry. The coupled results demonstrated good correlation with Spearmen's coefficient of 0.94. Seroepidemiological study in a local hospital-based setting using this newly developed ELISA showed steadily increasing HCoV-HKU1 seroprevalence in childhood and early adulthood, from 0% in the age group of <10 years old to a plateau of 21.6% in the age group of 31-40 years old.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrated the usefulness of the S-based ELISA which could be applied to future epidemiological studies of HCoV-HKU1 in other localities.