Ebola Virus Neutralizing Antibodies Detectable in Survivors of theYambuku, Zaire Outbreak 40 Years after Infection

J Infect Dis. 2018 Jan 4;217(2):223-231. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix584.


The first reported outbreak of Ebola virus disease occurred in 1976 in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. Antibody responses in survivors 11 years after infection have been documented. However, this report is the first characterization of anti-Ebola virus antibody persistence and neutralization capacity 40 years after infection. Using ELISAs we measured survivor's immunological response to Ebola virus Zaire (EBOV) glycoprotein and nucleoprotein, and assessed VP40 reactivity. Neutralization of EBOV was measured using a pseudovirus approach and plaque reduction neutralization test with live EBOV. Some survivors from the original EBOV outbreak still harbor antibodies against all 3 measures. Interestingly, a subset of these survivors' serum antibodies could still neutralize live virus 40 years postinitial infection. These data provide the longest documentation of both anti-Ebola serological response and neutralization capacity within any survivor cohort, extending the known duration of response from 11 years postinfection to at least 40 years after symptomatic infection.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ebola virus; filovirus; serological response; virus neutralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood*
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Ebolavirus / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors
  • Time Factors
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral