Role of Toxoplasma IgA as Part of a Reference Panel for the Diagnosis of Acute Toxoplasmosis during Pregnancy

J Clin Microbiol. 2019 Jan 30;57(2):e01357-18. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01357-18. Print 2019 Feb.


This study evaluated the usefulness of adding the Toxoplasma gondii IgA antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to the serologic panel of tests done for the diagnosis of acute toxoplasmosis in pregnant women in a reference laboratory in the United States. We conducted a retrospective study of 690 consecutive pregnant women with positive T. gondii IgG antibody test results who also had T. gondii IgA and IgM antibody tests performed. Patients were defined as acutely or chronically infected with T. gondii based on a panel of serologic tests performed at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Toxoplasma Serology Laboratory (PAMF-TSL). Among the 81 women who were positive by T. gondii IgA antibody ELISA testing, 61 (75.3%) were acutely infected with T. gondii, while of the 547 who were negative by IgA testing, only 24 (4.4%) were acutely infected (P < 0.001). Among the 71 women who were positive by both IgA and IgM antibody tests, 61 (85.9%) were acutely infected, whereas 24 (19.2%) of the 125 women who were positive by only the IgM ELISA were acutely infected (P < 0.001). These results demonstrate that pregnant women with T. gondii IgA antibodies are more likely than pregnant women without T. gondii IgA antibodies to have had a recent infection with T. gondiiToxoplasma IgA antibody testing can therefore improve the accuracy of a serologic panel for the diagnosis of acute toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. Physicians who ordered testing only for T. gondii IgG and IgM should also request additional testing for IgA and IgG avidity, if both IgG and IgM are positive. This further testing should, ideally, be performed in a reference laboratory.

Keywords: Toxoplasma gondii; toxoplasmosis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serologic Tests / methods*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin M