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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Jan; 35(1): 174–178.
PMCID: PMC229533

False-positive results in immunoglobulin M (IgM) toxoplasma antibody tests and importance of confirmatory testing: the Platelia Toxo IgM test.


Although tests for detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) toxoplasma antibodies have been reported to have a high degree of accuracy, it is well recognized by investigators in the United States and Europe that false-positive results may occur with many of these tests, at times to an alarming degree. Unfortunately, this information is not well documented in the literature. Studies on various toxoplasma IgM test kits are frequently flawed. The investigators often use reference tests which have not previously been carefully evaluated as well as sera that were not appropriate to answer the question of how often false-positive results might occur. We recently had the unique opportunity to evaluate the accuracy of the Platelia Toxo IgM test in 575 serum samples obtained during an outbreak of toxoplasmosis which occurred in 1995 in the Capital Regional District of British Columbia, Canada. When compared with results obtained in a reference IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), the Platelia Toxo IgM test had a sensitivity of 99.4%, specificity of 49.2%, positive predictive value of 51.9%, negative predictive value of 99.3%, and an overall agreement of 67.0%. In an attempt to resolve discrepancies between these two tests, a serological profile (Sabin-Feldman dye test, IgA and IgE antibody tests, differential agglutination [AC/HS] test, and IgG avidity method) was performed. Of 153 serum samples that were positive in the Platelia Toxo IgM test and negative in the IgM ELISA, 71 (46.4%) were negative in the Sabin-Feldman dye test. Of the serum samples that were positive in the dye test, 77 (93.9%) had a serological profile most compatible with an infection acquired in the distant past. These results reveal high numbers of false-positive results in the Platelia Toxo IgM test and highlight the importance of appropriate evaluation of commercial tests that are currently being marked. Our results also emphasize the importance of confirmatory testing to determine whether the results of an IgM antibody test reflect the likelihood of a recently acquired infection.

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Selected References

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