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J Infect. 2013 Aug;67(2):130-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2013.03.015. Epub 2013 Apr 10.

Cross-reactive antibodies in convalescent SARS patients' sera against the emerging novel human coronavirus EMC (2012) by both immunofluorescent and neutralizing antibody tests.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

A severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like disease due to a novel betacoronavirus, human coronavirus EMC (HCoV-EMC), has emerged recently. HCoV-EMC is phylogenetically closely related to Tylonycteris-bat-coronavirus-HKU4 and Pipistrellus-bat-coronavirus-HKU5 in Hong Kong. We conducted a seroprevalence study on archived sera from 94 game-food animal handlers at a wild life market, 28 SARS patients, and 152 healthy blood donors in Southern China to assess the zoonotic potential and evidence for intrusion of HCoV-EMC and related viruses into humans.

METHODS:

Anti-HCoV-EMC and anti-SARS-CoV antibodies were detected using screening indirect immunofluorescence (IF) and confirmatory neutralizing antibody tests.

RESULTS:

Two (2.1%) animal handlers had IF antibody titer of ≥ 1:20 against both HCoV-EMC and SARS-CoV with neutralizing antibody titer of <1:10. No blood donor had antibody against either virus. Surprisingly, 17/28 (60.7%) of SARS patients had significant IF antibody titers with 7/28 (25%) having anti-HCoV-EMC neutralizing antibodies at low titers which significantly correlated with that of HCoV-OC43. Bioinformatics analysis demonstrated a significant B-cell epitope overlapping the heptad repeat-2 region of Spike protein. Virulence of SARS-CoV over other betacoronaviruses may boost cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies against other betacoronaviruses.

CONCLUSIONS:

Convalescent SARS sera may contain cross-reactive antibodies against other betacoronaviruses and confound seroprevalence study for HCoV-EMC.

Copyright © 2013 The British Infection Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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PMID:
23583636
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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