High seropositivity rate of neutralizing antibodies to astrovirus va1 in human populations

Andrew B. Janowski, Macee C. Owen, Holly Dudley, Tomás López, Rafaela Espinosa, Memory Elvin-Lewis, Alejandro Colichon, Carlos F. Arias, Peter D. Burbelo, David Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Astroviruses are common pathogens of the human gastrointestinal tract, but they have been recently identified from cases of fatal meningoencephalitis. Astrovirus VA1 is the most frequently detected astrovirus genotype from cases of human encephalitis, but the prevalence of neutralizing antibodies to VA1 in human sera is unknown. We developed a focus reduction neutralization assay (FRNT) for VA1 and measured the seroprevalence of neutralizing antibodies from two cohorts of adult and pediatric serum samples: (i) an age-stratified cohort from St. Louis, MO, collected from 2007 to 2008 and (ii) a cohort from the Peruvian Amazonian River Basin collected in the late 1990s. In the St. Louis cohort, the lowest seropositivity rate was in children 1 year of age (6.9%), rising to 63.3% by ages 9 to 12, and 76.3% of adults $20 years were positive. The Peruvian Amazon cohort showed similar seropositivity rates across all ages, with individuals under age 20 having a rate of 75%, while 78.2% of adults $20 years were seropositive. In addition, we also identified the presence neutralizing antibodies to VA1 from commercial lots of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Our results demonstrate that a majority of humans are exposed to VA1 by adulthood, with the majority of infections occurring between 2 and 9 years of age. In addition, our results indicate that VA1 has been circulating in two geographically and socioeconomically divergent study cohorts over the past 20 years. Nonetheless, a significant proportion of the human population lacks neutralizing immunity and remains at risk for acute infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00484-21
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Astrovirus
  • Epidemiology
  • Humoral immunity
  • Neutralizing antibodies
  • Plus-strand RNA virus
  • Serology
  • Virology
  • Virus-host interactions


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