Characterization of a novel microfilarial antigen for diagnosis of Wuchereria bancrofti infections

Sarah E. Greene, Kerstin Fischer, Young Jun Choi, Kurt C. Curtis, Philip J. Budge, Makedonka Mitreva, Christopher L. King, Peter Fischer, Gary J. Weil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a neglected tropical disease caused by the filarial nematodes Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. The Global Program to Eliminate LF uses mass drug administration (MDA) of anti-filarial drugs that clear microfilariae (Mf) from blood to interrupt transmission by mosquitos. New diagnostic tools are needed to assess the impact of MDA on bancroftian filariasis, because available serologic tests can remain positive after successful treatment. Methodology/Principal findings We identified Wb-bhp-1, which encodes a W. bancrofti homologue of BmR1, the B. malayi protein used in the Brugia Rapid antibody test for brugian filariasis. Wb-bhp-1 has a single exon that encodes a 16.3 kD protein (Wb-Bhp-1) with 45% amino acid identity to BmR1. Immunohistology shows that anti-Wb-Bhp-1 antibodies primarily bind to Mf. Plasma from 124 of 224 (55%) microfilaremic individuals had IgG4 antibodies to Wb-Bhp-1 by ELISA. Serologic reactivity to Wb-Bhp-1 varied widely with samples from different regions (sensitiv-ity range 32–92%), with 77% sensitivity for 116 samples collected from microfilaremic individuals outside of sub-Saharan Africa. This variable sensitivity highlights the importance of validating new diagnostic tests for parasitic diseases with samples from different geographical regions. Individuals with higher Mf counts were more likely to have anti-Wb-Bhp-1 anti-bodies. Cross-reactivity was observed with a minority of plasma samples from people with onchocerciasis (17%) or loiasis (10%). We also identified, cloned and characterized BmR1 homologues from O. volvulus and L. loa that have 41% and 38% identity to BmR1, respectively. However, antibody assays with these antigens were not sensitive for onchocerciasis or loiasis. Conclusions Wb-Bhp-1 is a novel antigen that is useful for serologic diagnosis of bancroftian filariasis. Additional studies are needed to assess the value of this antigen for monitoring the success of filariasis elimination programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010407
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

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