A Rapid Assay for SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibodies That Is Insensitive to Antiretroviral Drugs

J Immunol. 2021 Jul 1;207(1):344-351. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2100155. Epub 2021 Jun 28.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike pseudotyped virus (PSV) assays are widely used to measure neutralization titers of sera and of isolated neutralizing Abs (nAbs). PSV neutralization assays are safer than live virus neutralization assays and do not require access to biosafety level 3 laboratories. However, many PSV assays are nevertheless somewhat challenging and require at least 2 d to carry out. In this study, we report a rapid (<30 min), sensitive, cell-free, off-the-shelf, and accurate assay for receptor binding domain nAb detection. Our proximity-based luciferase assay takes advantage of the fact that the most potent SARS-CoV-2 nAbs function by blocking the binding between SARS-CoV-2 and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. The method was validated using isolated nAbs and sera from spike-immunized animals and patients with coronavirus disease 2019. The method was particularly useful in patients with HIV taking antiretroviral therapies that interfere with the conventional PSV assay. The method provides a cost-effective and point-of-care alternative to evaluate the potency and breadth of the predominant SARS-CoV-2 nAbs elicited by infection or vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / analysis*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Neutralization Tests*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / immunology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2