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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1990 Jul;3(3):247-68.

Serology of coccidioidomycosis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616.


Serologic tests have assisted in the diagnosis and prognosis of coccidioidomycosis for a half-century. The causative agent, Coccidioides immitis, is a dimorphic fungus existing in a hyphal form with arthroconidia in nature and in the usual culture. The arthroconidia represent the inhaled infective forms which in vivo and under special laboratory conditions form spherules which endosporulate. The culture filtrate/autolysate (coccidioidin) from the hyphal phase has provided antigens of suitable reliability for currently used serologic tests. These tests are primarily to determine the two major antibody responses: the early immunoglobulin M (IgM) response is useful in the diagnosis of acute primary coccidioidomycosis. Later, IgG is produced and usually outlasts the IgM, persisting in chronic coccidioidomycosis. The IgM is detectable by tube precipitin, a corresponding immunodiffusion, or latex particle agglutination tests. The pertinent antigen(s) is heat stable and pronase resistant and appears to be largely carbohydrate, mainly mannose with some 3-O-methyl mannose. The IgG detectable in the serum and other body fluids by complement fixation and a corresponding immuno-diffusion is useful in diagnosis, and its quantitation provides an indicator of progression of disease (increasing titer) or regression (decreasing titer). The pertinent antigen appears to be a heat-labile, pronase-sensitive protein which in an unreduced form has a molecular weight of 110,000. A third very useful serologic procedure is the exoantigen test for identification of putative cultures of C. immitis.

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