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J Immunol Methods. 2005 Jun;301(1-2):21-30. Epub 2005 Apr 25.

Assays for the assessment of neutralizing antibody activities against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) associated coronavirus (SCV).

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  • 1Laboratory of Nucleic Acid Vaccines, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 364 Plantation Street, Lazare Research Building, Worcester, MA 01605-2397, United States.


Accurate assessment of neutralizing antibody activities is important either for patients infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or for animals and volunteers immunized with the experimental vaccines against the SARS associated coronavirus (SCV). However, the current assay based on the cytopathic effect (CPE) which has been frequently cited in literature has several limitations. The CPE assay relies on the visual observation on the damage of SCV infected target cells under a microscope. It is subjected to observer variations and it is difficult to generate a quantitative determination of neutralizing activities based on the level of CPE. In the current study, we established the utility of two additional assays to measure the neutralizing activities against SCV: the plaque reduction (PR) and the neutral red staining (NRS) assays. The PR assay described in this study was modified from the traditional viral plaque reduction assay by using an improved crystal staining method to achieve better plague formation in SCV infected Vero E6 cells. The NRS neutralization assay was adopted from a similar system used for detecting neutralizing antibody responses against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). In this assay, the protective effect of neutralizing antibodies was determined by the cell viability which is measured by the uptake of neutral red dye at A540. The neutralizing antibody titers can be easily determined with either of the two new assays. In this report, we described the utility of these two new neutralization assays in measuring the neutralizing activities against SCV infection from rabbit sera immunized with various forms of spike protein of SCV.

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