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J Parasitol. 2002 Dec;88(6):1239-46.

Qualitative evaluation of selective tests for detection of Neospora hughesi antibodies in serum and cerebrospinal fluid of experimentally infected horses.

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Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Neospora hughesi is a newly recognized protozoan pathogen in horses that causes a myeloencephalitis similar to Sarcocystis neurona. There are no validated serologic tests using the gold standard sera that are currently available to detect specific N. hughesi antibodies and, thus, no tests available to detect antemortem exposure or estimate seroprevalence in the horse. The objectives of the present study were to establish a bank of gold standard equine sera through experimental infections with N. hughesi and to assess several serologic tests for the detection of related protozoan antibodies. Seven horses were inoculated with N. hughesi tachyzoites, and 7 horses received uninfected cell culture material. The horses were monitored, and blood and cerebrospinal fluid were collected repeatedly over a 4-mo period. With the sera, 4 different serologic techniques were evaluated. including a whole-parasite lysate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a recombinant protein ELISA, a modified direct agglutination test, and an indirect fluorescent antibody test. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the results showed that the N. hughesi indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) consistently discriminated between experimentally infected and noninfected horses, using a cutoff of 1:640. Sera from 3 naturally infected horses had titers >1:640. Cerebrospinal fluid in all but I infected horse had very low N. hughesi IFAT titers (<1:160), starting at postinoculation day 30.

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