BACKGROUND: Brugia malayi is endemic in several Asian countries with the highest prevalence in Indonesia. Determination of prevalence of lymphatic filariasis by serology has been performed by various investigators using different kinds of antigen (either soluble worm antigen preparations or recombinant antigens). This investigation compared the data obtained from IgG4 assays using two different kinds of antigen in a study on prevalence of antibodies to B. malayi. METHODS: Serum samples from a transmigrant population and life long residents previously tested with IgG4 assay using soluble worm antigen (SWA-ELISA), were retested with an IgG4 assay that employs BmR1 recombinant antigen (BmR1 dipstick [Brugia Rapid trade mark ]). The results obtained with the two antigens were compared, using Pearson chi-square and McNemar test. RESULTS: There were similarities and differences in the results obtained using the two kinds of antigen (SWA and BmR1). Similarities included the observation that assays using both antigens demonstrated an increasing prevalence of IgG4 antibodies in the transmigrant population with increasing exposure to the infection, and by six years living in the area, antibody prevalence was similar to that of life-long residents. With regards to differences, of significance is the demonstration of similar antibody prevalence in adults and children by BmR1 dipstick whereas by SWA-ELISA the antibody prevalence in adults was higher than in children. CONCLUSIONS: Results and conclusions made from investigations of prevalence of anti-filarial IgG4 antibody in a population would be affected by the assay employed in the study.
A multicentre evaluation of the Brugia Rapid dipstick test was performed using 1263 serum samples in four international laboratories, i.e. T.D. Medical College (TDMC, India), National Institutes of Health (NIH, USA), Swiss Tropical Institute (STI, Switzerland) and Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC, Netherlands). In comparison with microscopy, the dipstick demonstrated sensitivities of 97.2% (70 of 72) at TDMC, 91.6% (175 of 191) at LUMC and 100% (six of six) at STI. Sera of chronic patients showed a positivity rate of 11.3% (19 of 168) and 61.2% (71of 116) at TDMC and LUMC, respectively. All 266 sera of non-endemic normals from STI, NIH and LUMC tested negative with the dipstick. At LUMC, sera of 'endemic normals' (amicrofilaraemics with no clinical disease) from an area with approximately 35% microfilaria positivity showed 60.8% positive results (31 of 51), thus demonstrating the likelihood of many cryptic infections occurring in this population. Specificities of the test with Onchocerca volvulus sera were 98.8% (80 of 81) and 100% (10 of 10) at the NIH and STI, respectively; while specificity with Loa loa sera at the NIH was 84.6% (44 of 52). At the STI, the dipstick test also demonstrated 100% specificity when tested with 75 sera from various protozoan and helminthic infections.