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Expert Opin Med Diagn. 2007 Dec;1(4):511-9. doi: 10.1517/17530059.1.4.511.

Clinical utility of avidity assays.

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Panbio Ltd, 532 Seventeen Mile Rocks Road, Sinnamon Park, Brisbane, Queensland 4073, Australia +617 3363 7100 ; +617 3363 7199 ;


IgM may persist for months, presenting a risk of an erroneous diagnosis where serology is the only available tool. Indeed, IgM may be detected in secondary infection as a result of crossreactivity and/or nonspecific stimulation of the immune system. One test that can aid the serologist is IgG avidity testing, in that the avidity of IgG is low early in infection with the avidity of IgG antibodies increasing over time. Congenital toxoplasmosis can induce serious sequelae. Detectable IgM usually persists long after the acute infection. IgG avidity can be an important aid in diagnosis and assessing the risk to the fetus. Another infection that is of concern in pregnancy is cytomegalovirus (CMV). In pregnant women it is very important to differentiate primary from secondary infection, as primary infection presents the highest risk to the fetus. Serologic detection of IgM alone is not a specific marker of primary CMV infection. IgG avidity can have utility in identifying or excluding primary CMV infections during pregnancy. Outside of pregnancy, IgG avidity testing is increasingly recognized as a valuable tool. During the recent West Nile virus (WNV) epidemic in the US, it was recognized that WNV-specific IgM may persist for 6 - 12 months following exposure. Thus, a person presenting to their clinician with nonspecific symptoms may be tested and return a positive WNV IgM that may be the product of exposure during the previous period. In this environment, WNV IgG avidity testing is able to provide some assistance. IgG avidity testing should not be used alone and without an understanding of the limitations of the technique. Serology remains an important tool for the diagnosis and management of infectious disease. Classically, IgM is defined as a marker of acute infection and IgG, in the absence of clinical disease, is often considered a marker of past infection. However, the clinical reality can be quite different.


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