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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2001 Jul;8(4):724-30.

Standardized method of measuring acanthamoeba antibodies in sera from healthy human subjects.

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Center for Infectious Diseases, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.


Acanthamoeba species can cause serious, debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening infections. Three groups have been identified using morphological and immunological comparisons. Previous serological studies have utilized a variety of antigen preparations and assay methods and reported disparate (3 to 100%) results. This study was designed to (i) optimize an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detecting serum antibodies to each of the Acanthamoeba serogroups and (ii) test 55 healthy individuals for specific immunoglobulin G reactivity. The highest signal-to-background ratio was found when 3,000 fixed, intact trophozoites per well were used with a 1:10 serum dilution. Sera yielding optical densities of <0.25 against all three Acanthamoeba serogroups were used to define the cutoff for positive results. The highest background reactivity with these sera was seen with Acanthamoeba polyphaga (serogroup 2), followed by Acanthamoeba culbertsoni (serogroup 3) and Acanthamoeba astronyxis (serogroup 1). Of 55 subjects tested, the highest number of positive results was seen with A. polyphaga (81.8%), followed by A. astronyxis (52.8%) and A. culbertsoni (40%). Seven serum samples (12.7%) were negative for all three Acanthamoeba serogroups, 16 (29.1%) were positive for one serogroup only, 16 were positive for two serogroups, and 16 reacted to all three serogroups. Further analysis showed no significant associations between serogroup reactivity and age or gender. However, some ethnic differences were noted, especially with A. polyphaga antigens. In that case, serum samples from Hispanic subjects were 14.5 times less likely to be positive (P = 0.0025) and had lower mean absorbance values (P = 0.047) than those from Caucasian subjects. Overall, these data suggest that Acanthamoeba colonization or infection is more common than previously thought. Mild or asymptomatic infections may contribute to the observed serum reactivities.

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