Testing human sera for antibodies against avian influenza viruses: horse RBC hemagglutination inhibition vs. microneutralization assays.
BACKGROUND: The hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay is a frequently used method to screen human sera for antibodies against influenza A viruses. Because HI has relatively poor sensitivity in detecting antibodies against avian influenza A strains, a more complicated microneutralization (MN) assay is often preferred. Recent research suggests that the sensitivity of the HI assay can be improved by switching from the traditionally used turkey, guinea pig, human, or chicken RBCs to horse RBCs. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the performance of the horse RBC HI when screening for human antibodies against avian influenza types H3, H4, H5, H6, H7, H9, H11, and H12. STUDY DESIGN: We evaluated the reproducibility of horse RBC HI and its agreement with MN results using sera from people exposed or not exposed to wild and domestic birds. RESULTS: The horse RBC HI assay had high reliability (90%-100%) and good agreement with MN assay results (52%-100%). CONCLUSION: The horse RBC HI assay is reliable, less expensive, less complex, and faster than the MN assay. While MN will likely remain the gold standard serologic assay for avian viruses, the horse RBC HI assay may be very useful as a screening assay in large-scale epidemiologic studies.
Kayali, G; Setterquist, SF; Capuano, AW; Myers, KP; Gill, JS; Gray, GC
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