Rapid serodiagnosis of Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex infection by ELISA with cord factor (trehalose 6, 6'-dimycolate), and serotyping using the glycopeptidolipid antigen

Microbiol Immunol. 1998;42(10):689-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.1998.tb02341.x.


Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex (MAC) is one of the most important opportunistic pathogens, particularly in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The aim of this study was to determine whether an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using trehalose 6,6'-dimycolate (TDM) as an antigen can be used for the rapid serodiagnosis of MAC infection. We also identified MAC serotypes by ELISA using serotype-specific glycopeptidolipid (GPL) antigen. To confirm our findings, the thin-layer chromatographic (TLC) behavior of serotype-specific GPL of the strains isolated from MAC-infected patients was also tested. Forty patients infected with MAC and 30 healthy controls were tested. Thirty-two of the 40 MAC-infected patients had higher titers of serum antibodies against MAC TDM than against MTB TDM, while all 30 healthy control sera were unreactive to MAC TDM and MTB TDM. Results of the GPL ELISA indicated that 20 of the 40 MAC-infected patients' sera were reactive against serotype 4 GPL, 3 against serotype 8 GPL, and 1 against serotype 16 GPL. A TLC analysis of the GPL of the 40 MAC isolates showed that 16 strains were of serotype 4, 5 of serotype 8, and 2 of serotype 16. Results of the GPL ELISA were in good accord with those of the TLC analysis for most patients. Our findings suggest that ELISA using TDM is useful for rapid serodiagnosis of MAC infection, and that complementary ELISA testing using serotype-specific GPL gives additional detailed information concerning MAC serotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Cord Factors / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Glycolipids / immunology*
  • Glycopeptides / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium avium Complex / classification
  • Mycobacterium avium Complex / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / diagnosis*
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / immunology
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / microbiology
  • Serologic Tests
  • Serotyping
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Cord Factors
  • Glycolipids
  • Glycopeptides