Evaluation of an immunoglobulin G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for pertussis toxin and filamentous hemagglutinin in diagnosis of pertussis in Senegal

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1998 Mar;5(2):130-4.


The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is widely employed for the serological diagnosis of pertussis. It is generally concluded that a significant increase in specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) or IgA against the pertussis toxin (PT) or against filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) in paired sera correlates with Bordetella pertussis infection. However, this type of diagnosis of pertussis has mainly been applied to unvaccinated children, with timely sampling of acute- and convalescent-phase sera. In current practice and in epidemiological studies, such criteria are not always fulfilled. The aim of this study was to analyze the significance of decreases in IgG antibody titers against PT and FHA between paired sera observed in suspected cases of pertussis infection. Serological results from paired sera were available for 460 children experiencing at least 8 days of cough. An anti-PT IgG decrease was observed in 25% of the children, more frequently than the anti-FHA IgG decrease. Fourteen percent of the serologic decreases were observed in children with culture-confirmed infection, and 59% of the decreases were observed in children with confirmation criteria according to World Health Organization recommendations. Most of the decreases were observed when serum samples were collected according to a standard recommended schedule. Serologic decreases were observed more frequently among vaccinated children than among unvaccinated children. This difference, which was highly significant (P < 0.00001), was explained by the different kinetics of the antibody responses between vaccinated and unvaccinated children. The importance of the antibody response for the evaluation of vaccine efficacy, namely a bias toward higher absolute vaccine efficacy when this response is not taken into account, is discussed. This study supports an earlier recommendation that a significant decrease in PT or FHA should be added to the diagnostic criteria for pertussis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Hemagglutinins / analysis
  • Hemagglutinins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Pertussis Toxin*
  • Senegal / epidemiology
  • Serotyping
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / analysis
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / immunology*
  • Whooping Cough / diagnosis*
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology


  • Hemagglutinins
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella
  • Pertussis Toxin