An assay for detecting human immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus was developed by using the antibody capture solid-phase radioimmunoassay approach (JE IgM ACRIA). Heavy-chain-specific goat antihuman IgM was first bound to the wells of a polyvinyl microtiter plate, and successive steps involved sequential binding of test sample IgM, acetone-extracted mouse brain JE antigen, and 125I-labeled flavivirus hyperimmune human IgG. Among 20 patients hospitalized in Bangkok with clinical diagnoses of acute encephalitis, and with acute flavivirus infections proven by hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) serology, 16 had detectable (positive/negative [P/N] ratio, >3.0) JE IgM ACRIA antibodies in the acute-phase serum specimen. Convalescent patient sera regularly had higher P/N values than the corresponding acute-phase sera (mean ± 1 standard deviation = 13.0 ± 9.3 with acute phase sera and 25.8 ± 19.6 with convalescent-phase sera). JE virus-infected patients with HAI serological responses indicative of a primary flavivirus infection had higher JE IgM ACRIA P/N responses than did those patients whose serological response indicated past exposure to other flaviviruses. None of 70 serum specimens from healthy Thai adults and children with serum JE HAI antibodies had detectable JE IgM ACRIA activity (P/N ratios all ≤3.0). Biological false-positives with low P/N ratios (range, 3 to 15) were found in sera from patients with acute or recent infections with flaviviruses other than JE virus but could be differentiated by the fact that these sera gave higher P/N ratios with homologous antigens than with JE virus. False-positive reactions with low P/N ratios (range, 3 to 6) due to serum rheumatoid factor activity were differentiated by testing with control antigen. The JE IgM ACRIA technique permits a rapid, accurate diagnosis of acute JE virus infections in both patients with and those without previous exposure to other flaviviruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)