Characterization of antibody response in neuroinvasive infection caused by Toscana virus

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2017 Nov;23(11):868-873. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.03.017. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Objectives: Among sandfly-borne pathogens, Toscana virus (TOSV) is a prominent cause of summer meningitis in Mediterranean Europe. Here, we assessed the kinetics of anti-TOSV antibodies over time in 41 patients diagnosed with TOSV meningitis or meningoencephalitis in northeastern Italy.

Methods: Acute and follow-up serum samples were collected up to 20 months after diagnosis of TOSV infection and tested for the presence of specific antibody using immunoenzymatic and indirect immunofluorescence assays. In addition, maturation of anti-TOSV IgG over time was evaluated as well as production of neutralizing antibodies.

Results: Specific IgM and IgG response was present at diagnosis in 100% of patients; TOSV-specific IgM and IgG were detected in patients' sera up to 6 and 20 months after diagnosis, respectively. The avidity index (AI) increased over the first month after infection in 100% of patients and most cases exceeded 60% by Day 30 post infection. The AI subsequently plateaued then declined at 20 months after diagnosis. Finally, neutralization assay to TOSV was performed in 217 sera collected from 41 patients; 69.6% of tested samples resulted in reactive and moderate levels of neutralizing antibodies observed during all phases of infection despite high titres of total anti-TOSV IgG.

Conclusions: Specific antibody response develops rapidly and is long-lasting for neuroinvasive TOSV infection. Serodiagnosis of neuroinvasive TOSV requires simultaneous detection of specific IgM and IgG. Moderate levels of neutralizing antibodies were maintained over the study period, while the protective role of antibodies lacking neutralizing activity is unclear and requires further evaluation.

Keywords: Antibody production; IgG avidity test; Neutralizing antibodies; Patients' follow-up; Toscana virus infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Bunyaviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Viral / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sandfly fever Naples virus / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M