Heat-mediated immune complex dissociation and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay signal amplification render p24 antigen detection in plasma as sensitive as HIV-1 RNA detection by polymerase chain reaction

AIDS. 1996 Sep;10(10):1085-90.


Objective: To compare heat denaturation and acidification as immune complex dissociation (ICD) methods in adult HIV-1 infection and to increase the sensitivity by a signal-amplification-boosted HIV-1 p24 antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Design: Prospective and retrospective blinded study of paired serum and plasma samples from 245 patients (112 of class A, 66 of B, 67 of C of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1993 classification).

Methods: Plasma and sera were prospectively tested for antigen by ELISA using native, acidified, or heat-denatured material. Retrospective tests included batch analysis of heat-denatured samples for antigen by the signal-amplification-boosted ELISA and for viral RNA.

Results: With serum, native antigen was reactive in 26.5%. Acidification increased the rate to 53.1% (P < or = 0.0001), but was inefficient at a CD4+ count > or = 500 x 10(6)/l. Heat denaturation further elevated the rate to 67.8% (P < or = 0.0007) and the use of plasma to 78.0% (P < or = 0.008). The boosted ELISA, performed with plasma samples diluted 1 :6, which eliminated the problem of heat-induced sample coagulation, was confirmed positive in 89.5% of serum and 97.8% of plasma samples. RNA was detected in 95.7%.

Conclusion: Heat-mediated ICD combined with a signal-amplification-boosted ELISA detects HIV-1 expression as sensitively as a polymerase chain reaction kit for viral RNA, but at only a fraction of the cost. The procedure uses a 50 microliters plasma sample and should be fully automatable.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / blood*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Protein Denaturation
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • HIV Core Protein p24
  • RNA, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic