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J Biol Stand. 1988 Oct;16(4):281-6.

A rabies agglutination test (RAT) for rabies antibody detection.

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Unité de la Rage, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


An agglutination test has been developed for the detection of rabies antibodies after human vaccination. The rabies agglutination test (RAT) is based on the capability of specific antibody to agglutinate sensitized polystyrene (or latex) beads. In the RAT, latex beads were coated, in a first step, with inactivated and purified rabies virus (PV strain adapted and propagated on BHK-21 cells) and, in a second step, with bovine serum albumin. Negative control beads were coated with bovine serum albumin (BSA) only. To test for human antibody, several microliters of serum were mixed on a glass slide with an equal volume of virus-sensitized beads and the mixture was gently agitated. After a few minutes, agglutination was visible with sera which had been characterized as positive by the virus neutralization antibody (VNAb) technique. No agglutination was observed with negative sera tested with virus-coated beads or with positive sera tested with BSA-coated beads. Virus-sensitized beads were agglutinated when the virus neutralizing antibody titres were equal to or greater than 2.5 international units per ml (IU/ml) in human sera. The concordance between the RAT results and VNAb titres was about 97% when 2.5 IU/ml was taken as the cut off value for determining the positive sera with the VNAb technique. The possibility that clinicians might use the RAT as a simple means to determine sero-conversion at the end of the post-exposure treatment of patients is discussed.

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