Identification of antibodies directed against O-acetylated sialic acids in visceral leishmaniasis: its diagnostic and prognostic role.
A significantly increased O-acetylated sialic acid (O-AcSA) binding fraction was purified from serum of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patients by affinity chromatography on immobilized bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) and found to be immunoglobulin in origin. The serodiagnostic and prognostic potential of BSM as a capture antigen was established by ELISA with no cross reactivity with coendemic diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, chagas disease and cutaneous leishmaniasis; however, a strong cross reactivity was present with trypanosomiasis patients. In 56 clinically diagnosed VL patients, the BSM-ELISA was compared with diagnosis by microscopy using Giemsa stained tissue smears and direct ELISA using crude parasite antigen (parasite-ELISA); 49/56(87.5%) and 5/56(9.0%) were positive and negative respectively by all 3 methods. The BSM-ELISA failed to diagnose 2/56(3.5%) patients which were biopsy and parasite-ELISA positive. The prognostic potential of the BSM-ELISA in 18 longitudinally monitored VL patients before and after conventional antimonial treatment showed a significant decrease in anti O-AcSA titres in drug responsive patients whereas anti O-AcSA levels persisted in drug unresponsive patients. The IgG subclass distribution of antibodies directed against O-AcSA showed increased IgG2 levels in VL patients as compared to healthy controls. The BSM-based ELISA holds great promise as a serodiagnostic and prognostic assay for VL.