We developed a polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR-ELISA) for the detection of Onchocerca volvulus DNA. To standardize the PCR and to avoid false-negative results, an internal control DNA was co-amplified by the same set of primers. We differentiated the wild-type PCR product of the O-150 DNA sequence from the internal control by specific DNA probes. Detection of biotinylated PCR products by DNA probes was performed by ELISA to quantify the PCR product or by DNA Detection Test Strips™ as a rapid field technique. The methods were evaluated on skin biopsies from individuals living in an area endemic for O. volvulus in Uganda, but with low microfilaria densities because of ivermectin treatment. Microfilaria density was assessed by a single skin snip and a second skin snip was examined by PCR. Among 69 samples from microfilaria carriers, 47 (68%) were positive by ELISA and 55 (80%) by test strip detection of PCR products. When 39 samples of microfilaria-negative individuals from the same area were tested, 10 (27%) were positive by ELISA and 12 (31%) by test strips. None of the 19 samples obtained from persons living in an area not endemic for O. volvulus but endemic for Mansonella streptocerca was positive in either test. Although the ELISA is theoretically more sensitive than the test strips for the detection of PCR products, examination of field samples revealed that the test strip method had a higher operational sensitivity and was more convenient to perform. Thus, the DNA Detection Test Strips™ are a rapid and low-tech tool for identification of PCR products in laboratories of countries endemic for onchocerciasis.
- DNA probes
- Skin snips