The possible depression of cell-mediated immunity by long-term Brugia malayi infection in jirds (Meriones unguiculatus) was investigated. Different groups of infected jirds were sensitized with dinitrofluorobenzene, sheep red blood cells, Dirofilaria immitis adult antigens and B. malayi adult antigens. The 24-hour delayed type hypersensitivity skin response to testing with antigen was measured as an in vivo correlate of cell-mediated immunity. The delayed-type hypersensitivity responses to dinitrofluorobenzene, sheep red blood cells and D. immitis antigens were normal but the response to B. malayi antigens was significantly depressed, confirming that long-term B. malayi infection depresses cell-mediated immunity and that this depression is specific to B. malayi antigens.
The indirect hemagglutination (IHA) test done with turkey red cells was applied to 173 serum samples obtained from patients and persons exposed to Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi in endemic areas of Peninsular Malaysia. A crude extract of adult worms of the rat filaria, Breinlia booliati, was used as the antigen. When a titer of 1:16 was taken as negative, positive IHA test rates in sera from microfilaria-negative persons in endemic areas, microfilaremic cases, and patients with clinical filariasis were 13%, 75%, and 80%, respectively. Results of the IHA test correlated well with results obtained with the indirect fluorescent technique.
Accurate diagnosis of human filarial infections still remains a problem for clinicians and co-ordinators of filariasis control programs. Diagnosis of filariasis is based on parasitological, histopathological, clinical and immunological approaches. No significant advances have been made for the first three approaches although some refinements in their use and interpretation of results have occurred. For the immunological approach, intradermal tests and antibody detection assays using crude parasite extracts generally lack specificity and/or sensitivity to discriminate between past and present filarial infections in humans. Antigen detection assays would therefore provide a more accurate indication of active filarial infections. Several monoclonal antibodies to various stages of lymphatic filarial parasites have been developed and appear potentially useful for filarial antigen detection.
Quantitation of serum immunoglobulin M, G, A, D and E levels was carried out in Malaysians with Brugia malayi infections. Results showed highly elevated levels of IgM and IgE as well as moderately elevated levels of IgG. These were most significant in patients with tropical pulmonary eosinophilia or elephantiasis. Serum IgE levels were extremely high in microfilaraemic patients (6,060 +/- 3,958 IU ml) probably due to a constant antigenic stimulation by dead and dying microfilariae.
Similar HLA association was found in patients with elephantiasis in Sri Lankans and Southern Indians. HLA-B15 was observed in 13/44 (30%) Sri Lankan patients with elephantiasis compared to 1/27 (4%) Sri Lankan controls (p = .0058; RR = 10.9) and in 5/8 (28%) Southern Indian elephantiasis compared to 10/101 (10%) Southern Indian controls (p = 0.04; RR = 3.5). In combining the data, the significance of the difference of the frequency of B15 between patients with elephantiasis and controls was even more marked (p = 0.00045; corrected p = 0.012; RR = 4.4).
Levels of immunoglobulins G, A, M and E as well as complement components C3c and C4 have been determined in populations in various endemic areas in Peninsular Malaysia and also in filariasis patients. High immunoglobulin levels were seen. In the microfilarial-negative group IgG was 2009 mg% while IgE was 3967 I.U./ml. In the filariasis group, Wuchereria bancrofti patients had significantly higher levels of IgG, IgM and IgE, namely, 3314 mg%, 804 mg% and 18400 I.U./ml respectively. The significance of these levels is discussed.
An IgG4 ELISA based on a novel recombinant antigen was evaluated for detection of Brugia malayi infection, using 2487 sera from various institutions: 2031 samples from Universiti Sains Malaysia, 276 blinded sera from 2 other institutions in Malaysia, 140 blinded sera from India and 40 blinded sera from Thailand. These sera were from various groups of individuals, i.e., microfilaraemics, chronic patients, endemic normals, non-endemic normals and individuals with other parasitic and bacterial infections. Based on a cut-off optical density reading of 0.300, the IgG4 ELISA demonstrated specificity rates of 95.6-100%, sensitivity rates of 96-100%, positive predictive values of 75-100% and negative predictive values of 98.9-100%. These evaluation studies demonstrated the high specificity and sensitivity of this test for the detection of active B. malayi infection. Thus, the IgG4 ELISA would be very useful as a tool in diagnosis and in elimination programmes for brugian filariasis.
Saline extracts of ether-treated Dirofilaria immitis, Ascaris suum, and Ancylostoma spp. were used in indirect hemagglutination tests of serum from 164 patients with a diagnosis of eosinophilic lung and 114 persons with other diseases or no disease (blood donors). In the first group, positive reactions with one, two or all three antigens were obtained in 89 percent of cases and the titers, at medium or high levels in 77 percent, decreased after treatment with diethylcarbamazine. In the other group, antibodies were demonstrable in the serum of only 22 percent of cases and titers usually were low. These observations indicate the presence of several antigen-antibody systems, some of which appear to be specific. With extracts of Dirofilaria the indirect hemagglutination and the complement-fixation tests were similar in sensitivity and specificity, but the results from neither test appeared to indicate infection with a specific worm.
The diverse clinical syndromes characterized by asthmatic symptoms, transient pulmonary infiltrates, and eosinophilia have tended to obscure the specific association of one such entity with filarial infections. Serum IgE levels were determined before and after therapy in a group of well-characterized patients with tropical eosinophilia (TE), studied earlier in Singapore. The mean serum IgE level in 14 cases before treatment with diethylcarbamazine was 2,355 ng. per milliliter, with a trend but statistically nonsignificant decrease in levels to 600-1,000 ng. occurring 8 to 12 weeks after therapy. Leukocyte and eosinophil counts showed a rapid reduction after treatment, and although mean complement-fixing (cf) titers to Dirofilarial antigen tended to decrease, they were not significantly reduced until 5 to 6 weeks. The historical development of evidence supporting the filarial etiology of TE was reviewed. Many basic questions engendered by the clinical syndrome of tropical eosinophilia make it an excellent model for study of the immunopathology of parasitic infections.
BmR1 recombinant antigen has previously been shown to demonstrate high sensitivity and specificity in the serological diagnosis of brugian filariasis in humans. In this study, the pattern of recognition of antibody to BmR1 during Brugia malayi infection was investigated by employing Meriones unguiculatus as the experimental model. Thirty two gerbils were infected subcutaneously with 120 L(3); and two control groups each comprising 25 animals were employed. ELISA using BmR1 was used to detect filaria-specific IgG antibodies elicited by the gerbils; using sera collected from the day 1 until day 150 post-inoculation (p.i.). The results showed that BmR1 detected B. malayi infection in gerbils harboring adult worms irrespective of the presence of circulating microfilaria, and was exemplified by positive ELISA results in nine a microfilaraemic animals that harbored live adult worms. The initial time of the antibody recognition was at day 8 p.i. and the antibody titre showed some correlation with adult worm burden.