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BackgroundThe mainstay of diagnostic confirmation of acute Japanese encephalitis (JE) involves detection of anti-JE virus (JEV) immunoglobulin M (IgM) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Limitations in the specificity of this test are increasingly apparent with the introduction of JEV vaccinations and the endemicity of other cross-reactive flaviviruses. Virus neutralization testing (VNT) is considered the gold standard, but it is challenging to implement and interpret. We performed a pilot study to assess IgG depletion prior to VNT for detection of anti-JEV IgM neutralizing antibodies (IgM-VNT) as compared with standard VNT.MethodsWe evaluated IgM-VNT in paired sera from anti-JEV IgM ELISA-positive patients (JE n=35) and negative controls of healthy flavivirus-naïve (n=10) as well as confirmed dengue (n=12) and Zika virus (n=4) patient sera. IgM-VNT was subsequently performed on single sera from additional JE patients (n=76).ResultsAnti-JEV IgG was detectable in admission serum of 58% of JE patients. The positive, negative and overall percentage agreement of IgM-VNT as compared with standard VNT was 100%. A total of 12/14 (86%) patient samples were unclassified by VNT and, with sufficient sample available for IgG depletion and IgG ELISA confirming depletion, were classified by IgM-VNT. IgM-VNT enabled JE case classification in 72/76 (95%) patients for whom only a single sample was available.ConclusionsThe novel approach has been readily adapted for high-throughput testing of single patient samples and it holds promise for incorporation into algorithms for use in reference centres.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/trstmh/trac036

Type

Journal

Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Publication Date

18/05/2022

Addresses

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.