Evaluation of a Novel Reporter Virus Neutralization Test for Serological Diagnosis of Zika and Dengue Virus Infection

J Clin Microbiol. 2017 Oct;55(10):3028-3036. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00975-17. Epub 2017 Aug 2.


Currently, the laboratory diagnosis of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection is primarily through the detection of ZIKV RNA or antibodies against ZIKV proteins. The detection of viral RNA is highly sensitive and specific, but periods of viremia and viruria are brief, limiting the utility of ZIKV RNA assays. Instead, most ZIKV infections are diagnosed serologically, using an IgM antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (MAC-ELISA) for screening, followed by a confirmatory plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT). Typical turnaround times vary, due to assay incubation periods and a lack of clinical laboratories performing these tests. Recently, a novel luciferase-ZIKV- and -dengue virus (DENV)-based serological assay, which considerably improves the turnaround times and throughput for ZIKV diagnosis, was described. Using the traditional PRNT as a reference method, we evaluated the performance characteristics of the reporter virus neutralization test (RVNT) with 258 clinical serum specimens. The ZIKV RVNT produced primary ZIKV screening and secondary confirmation results in 4 days, with 100% reproducibility. As a screening assay, the ZIKV RVNT displayed excellent diagnostic accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of 98.2%, 100%, and 98.1%, respectively. As a confirmatory assay, the ZIKV RVNT titers displayed 93.1% agreement with the traditional ZIKV PRNT titers. Overall, the RVNT accurately and reliably detects neutralizing antibodies in patient serum specimens, with improved turnaround times, and can be used for the serological detection of ZIKV infections. Due to the homogeneous 96-well format, the RVNT has also significantly improved the assay throughput to allow testing of a large number of specimens in a single run.

Keywords: Zika virus; dengue virus; neutralization assay; sensitivity; specificity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Dengue / diagnosis*
  • Dengue / virology
  • Dengue Virus / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Neutralization Tests / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vero Cells
  • Viremia / diagnosis*
  • Viremia / virology
  • Zika Virus / immunology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / diagnosis*
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M