Effect of patient immunodeficiencies on the diagnostic performance of serological assays to detect Aspergillus-specific antibodies in chronic pulmonary aspergillosis

Respir Med. 2021 Mar;178:106290. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2020.106290. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


Background: Prevalence of chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) is ~3 million patients worldwide, and detection of Aspergillus-specific antibody is a critical diagnostic component. Some patients with CPA have subtle immune deficits possibly contributing to poor Aspergillus antibody production and false negative results.

Materials/methods: We analyzed patient data from 167 cases of clinically confirmed CPA previously evaluated by ImmunoCAP Aspergillus-specific IgG EIA, Bordier ELISA and LDBio Aspergillus IgG/IgM ICT lateral flow assay, to identify deficiencies in: mannose binding lectin (MBL), IgG, IgA, IgM, IFN gamma, IL12 or IL17 production, and/or low cell marker counts (CD4, CD19, CD56). We defined patients as 'sero-negative' if ImmunoCAP Aspergillus IgG was consistently and repeatedly negative (<40 mg A/L). 'Sero-positive' was defined as all other CPA cases.

Results: We found the rate of false negatives by ImmunoCAP Aspergillus IgG EIA (n = 23) to be more prevalent in patients with immunodeficiency markers, especially multiple defects. MBL deficiency combined with low CD19 cells (p < 0.001), pneumococcal antibody levels (p = 0.043), IgM (p = 0.047) or three combined (p = 0.001-0.018) or all four together (p = 0.018) were significant. The performance LDBio Aspergillus IgG/IgM ICT appears to be relatively unaffected by immunodeficiency (92.7% of ImmunoCap sero-negatives were positive). The Bordier assay performed significantly better than the ImmunoCAP assay (P = 0.0016) for sero-negative CPA cases.

Conclusions: In select cases of CPA, ImmunoCAP EIA yields a false negative result, making serological diagnosis difficult. ImmunoCAP false negatives are more prevalent in patients with multiple immunological defects, who may still be positive with the LDBio Aspergillus ICT or Bordier EIA.

Keywords: Antibody; Aspergilloma; Diagnosis; Humoral; T lymphocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Fungal / blood*
  • Aspergillus / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chronic Disease
  • False Negative Reactions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / complications*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology*
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / immunology
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serologic Tests / methods*


  • Antibodies, Fungal
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G