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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1998 Jul;5(4):513-8.

Comparison of an amplified enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with procedures based on molecular biology for assessing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 viral load.

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CERVI-VIROLOGIE, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


The sensitivity of the enzyme-linked amplified sorbent test (ELAST) was compared with those of other classic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), with or without previous acidic immunocomplex dissociation (ICD), in a series of samples at different stages of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. The limit of viral detection of ELAST was assessed with fresh HIV-1 preparations quantified by reverse transcription-PCR and with the P24 antigen (Ag) Sanofi Pasteur Calibrator containing lyophilized virus. The P24 Ag detection capacity of ELAST was compared with that of NASBA in samples obtained from infected subjects with less than 250 CD4+ cells. The results of the present study show that ELAST was the most sensitive method for detecting P24 Ag compared to classic ELISA and ICD plus ELISA. ELAST was able to detect 0.5 pg of P24 Ag per ml in a whole virus preparation and the equivalent of 330 to 1,000 RNA copies/ml of HIV. The rate of detection of P24 Ag was always higher in subjects with low levels of anti-P24 antibodies. The number of positive results was dramatically enhanced (from 37% to 94% for subjects with <250 CD4+ cells) when the incubation period was prolonged from 1 to 16 h. In a third series of 84 samples (<250 CD4+ cells) tested in parallel, NASBA yielded 83% of the positive results and ELAST yielded 79%. Considering the high sensitivity, low cost, simplicity of equipment (only a plate reader), and possibility for full automation, ELAST appears to be a promising new tool for measuring viral load, especially in areas with few resources, in which the procedures based on molecular biology techniques may be difficult to install.

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