Performance of four different indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to detect specific IgG, IgA, and IgM in Legionnaires' disease

APMIS. 1994 Jul;102(7):501-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1699-0463.1994.tb05197.x.


Currently recommended methods in Legionnaires' disease serology are based upon crude whole-cell antigenic preparations. To investigate whether purified antigens would perform better in a given diagnostic test for antibodies against Legionella pneumophila, we compared the performance of three antigenic preparations of L. pneumophila serogroup 1 consisting of outer membrane protein (OMP), flagellin (FLA), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to a sonic extract (SON) in indirect immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measuring both IgG, IgA, and IgM. The reactivity of sera from 20 patients with culture-verified Legionnaires' disease and sera from 12 patients with pneumonia and a diagnostic rise in titre by a microagglutination test (MA) was studied. Our results indicated that the SON IgA assay was the most sensitive test in both groups of patients. The LPS IgG and IgM assays, however, were the most specific tests, closely followed by the corresponding SON tests. By combining two individual assays, a maximum nosographic sensitivity of 85% could be obtained. Whereas no benefit of using purified outer membrane protein or flagella instead of a sonic extract in the indirect ELISAs was found, the LPS antigen provided a sensitive and specific alternative to the sonic extract.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Flagellin / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / blood*
  • Legionella pneumophila / immunology*
  • Legionnaires' Disease / diagnosis*
  • Legionnaires' Disease / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Flagellin