Background: Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with severe gastrointestinal disease including cancer. It induces complex antibody responses that might vary depending on disease state but currently cannot be assessed adequately. The objective of this work was the development of a sensitive and specific H. pylori multiplex serology assay with high-throughput capability that allows simultaneous detection of antibodies to a protein array.
Methods: Seventeen proteins of up to three H. pylori strains (26695, G27, 151), including CagA, VacA, UreA, Catalase, Omp, and GroEL, were recombinantly expressed as glutathione-S-transferase fusion proteins, affinity-purified, and used as antigens in a fluorescent bead-based antibody-binding assay. Reference sera (n = 317) characterized by commercial assays (screening ELISA with Western blot confirmation) were used for validation.
Results: H. pylori seropositivity by multiplex serology defined as reactivity with at least four proteins showed good agreement (kappa: 0.70) with commercial serologic assay classification, and a sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 82%. For individual antigens, agreement with Western blot was good for CagA (kappa: 0.77), moderate for UreA (kappa: 0.53), and weak for VacA (kappa: 0.12). Of the 13 proteins expressed from two strains, only VacA showed serologic strain differences. High antibody reactivity to CagA (Type I infection) was negatively associated with antibodies to GroEL, Cad, CagM, catalase, HcpC, NapA, and UreA, suggesting type-specific differences in protein expression patterns and/or immune response.
Conclusion: With its high-throughput and simultaneous detection abilities, H. pylori multiplex serology appears suited as tool for large seroepidemiologic studies assessing H. pylori prevalence, antibody patterns, and associations with specific diseases.