Specific bovine brucellosis diagnosis based on in vitro antigen-specific gamma interferon production

V Weynants, J Godfroid, B Limbourg, C Saegerman, Jean-Jacques Letesson

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In order to improve the specificity of the diagnosis of bovine brucellosis, we developed a test which can be regarded as an in vitro correlate of the delayed-type hypersensitivity test (DTH). A mixture of cytoplasmic proteins from Brucella melitensis B115 was used as a specific antigenic stimulus in bovine whole blood culture. Supernatants harvested at 18 to 24 h after the in vitro antigenic stimulus were assayed for their gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) content by using a commercial sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit. The IFN-gamma assay was evaluated with 10 heifers during the course (80 days) of an experimental infection and with 14 cows from an ongoing brucellosis outbreak. All of these animals were slaughtered, and pertinent organs were subjected to classical bacteriological analyses. In addition, we analyzed 23 field cases in which false-positive serological reactions occurred. The IFN-gamma results were compared with those of the standard DTH and a battery of serological assays, and they were correlated with bacteriological data. Both for the experimental infection and for the field brucellosis outbreak, the IFN-gamma assay detected infection in more animals than any combination of the serological tests, and it detected infection earlier than these tests. Finally, none of the samples from cows showing false-positive serological reactions was classified as positive by the IFN-gamma assay, attesting to its specificity and to its usefulness in interpreting ambiguous serological results. A rapid and convenient alternative to the DTH, the IFN-gamma assay appears to be an ideal method that is complementary to the serological diagnosis protocols.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-12
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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