Diagnosis of Coxiella burnetii infection: comparison of a whole blood interferon-gamma production assay and a Coxiella ELISPOT
SourcePLoS One, 9, 8, (2014), article e103749
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Diagnosis of ongoing or past infection with Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, relies heavily on serology: the measurement of C. burnetii-specific antibodies, reflecting the host's humoral immune response. However, cell-mediated immune responses play an important, probably even more relevant, role in infections caused by the intracellular C. burnetii bacterium. Recent studies have investigated interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) based assays, including a whole-blood IFN-gamma production assay and a Coxiella enzyme-linked immunospot (Coxiella ELISPOT), as potential diagnostic tools for Q fever diagnosis. Both are in-house developed assays using stimulating antigens of different origin. The main objective of this study was to compare the test performance of the IFN-gamma production assay and the Coxiella ELISPOT for detecting a cellular immune response to C. burnetii in Q fever patients, and to assess the correlation between both assays. To that end, both tests were performed in a well-defined patient group of chronic Q fever patients (n = 16) and a group of healthy seronegative individuals (n = 17). Among patients, both the Coxiella ELISPOT and the IFN-gamma production assay detected positive response in 14/16. Among controls, none were positive in the Coxiella ELISPOT, whereas the IFN-gamma production assay detected positive results in 1/17 and 3/17, when using Henzerling and Nine Mile as stimulating antigens, respectively. These results suggest the Coxiella ELISPOT has a somewhat higher specificity than the IFN-gamma production assay when Nine Mile is used as antigen stimulus. The assays showed moderate correlation: the Spearman correlation coefficient r ranged between 0.37-0.60, depending on the antigens used. Further investigation of the diagnostic potential for C. burnetii infection of both assays is warranted.
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