Sensitive microplate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detection of antibodies against the scrub typhus rickettsia, Rickettsia tsutsugamushi

G. A. Dasch, S. Halle, A. L. Bourgeois

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46 Scopus citations


A microtiter enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) has been developed for the titration of antibodies against scrub typhus in human and animal sera. Scrub typhus rickettsiae were grown in monolayers of irradiated mouse LM3 cells and separated from host cell materials by differential centrifugation, filtration through a glass filter (AP-20, Millipore Corp.), and isopycnic banding in Renografin density gradients. The scrub typhus ELISA antigens were obtained from the purified viable rickettsiae by French pressure cell disruption and addition of 0.2% Formalin to the soluble extract. Antisera prepared in rabbits against the prototype Karp, the Kato, and the Gilliam strains of scrub typhus were used to standardize the ELISA and to compare its sensitivity and specificity to that of the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFA). ELISA titers were measured as the greatest serum dilution showing an optical density 0.25 above controls or by the optical density achieved at a fixed serum dilution. The IFA and ELISA end point titers were quite similar, and all three measures of titer had comparable specificity for the strains of scrub typhus. No cross-reactions between the typhus and scrub typhus sera were observed by ELISA. Both the immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibody titers of 12 sequential sera from four patients with scrub typhus were obtained by IFA and ELISA. The IFA and ELISA end point titers for IgM and IgG had correlation coefficients of 0.91 and 0.97, respectively, whereas the ELISA optical density values at a serum dilution of 1:100 had slightly lower correlations with the IFA titers (0.80 and 0.94). Early rising IgM titers followed by rising IgG titers were demonstrated by ELISA in three patients with primary scrub typhus infections, whereas the IgG response predominated in a patient with a reinfection. It is concluded that the ELISA for scrub typhus is a very satisfactory alternative to the IFA test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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