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J Med Virol. 1996 Jan;48(1):102-7.

Correlation between ELISA, hemagglutination inhibition, and neutralization tests after vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis.

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1
Institute of Virology, University of Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

The significance of IgG antibody levels determined by a binding assay (ELISA) was investigated as a surrogate marker for the presence of neutralizing and hemagglutination inhibiting antibodies in sera from individuals vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). To assess the extent of interference by flavivirus cross-reactive antibodies, sera from persons with a proven or suspected history of other flavivirus infections and/or vaccinations were also examined. An excellent and highly significant correlation was found between ELISA IgG units and the antibody titers obtained by the hemagglutination inhibition (HI) as well as by the neutralization test (NT), provided that there was no other exposure to flavivirus antigens except TBE vaccination. Yellow fever vaccination and/or dengue virus infections induced significant levels of antibodies reactive in the TBE ELISA and HI test, which did not exhibit, however, neutralizing activity against TBE virus. The phenomenon and problem of "original antigenic sin" was demonstrated in a TBE vaccinee with a history of previous flavivirus infections. TBE vaccination first induced a booster reaction resulting in a rise in the level of cross-reactive antibodies only, whereas TBE virus-neutralizing antibodies became detectable only after the third vaccination. It is concluded that the level of IgG antibodies determined by ELISA is a good marker for predicting the presence of neutralizing antibodies after TBE vaccination, but only in the absence of flavivirus cross-reactive antibodies. Otherwise, a neutralization assay is necessary for assessing immunity.

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