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Immunoblot for the detection of Ascaris suum-specific antibodies in patients with visceral larva migrans (VLM) syndrome

Schneider, Renate, Obwaller, Andreas, Auer, Herbert
Parasitology research 2015 v.114 no.1 pp. 305-310
Ascaris lumbricoides, Ascaris suum, Toxocara canis, antibodies, case studies, cough, developed countries, food contamination, humans, ingestion, laboratory animals, larva migrans, liver, nematode larvae, patients, pneumonia, raw meat, screening, serodiagnosis, swine, toxocariasis, volunteers, Austria, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden
Visceral larva migrans (VLM) syndrome caused by Toxocara canis larvae was first described in the 1950s. The role of other nematode larvae, i.e. the pig roundworm Ascaris suum as a causative agent of visceral larva migrans-associated symptoms like general malaise, cough, liver dysfunction, hypereosinophilia with hepatomegaly and/or pneumonia, was discussed controversially during the last decades. Recent serological screening studies for specific A. suum antibodies carried out in the Netherlands and Sweden yielded remarkable high seroprevalences, while a number of case reports from Japan report pulmonal, hepatic and cerebral symptoms caused by A. suum larvae after ingestion of infected raw meat (liver) or contaminated vegetables. We present here a sensitive and specific larval excretory–secretory (E/S) antigen-based immunoblot (As-IB) for the serodiagnosis of A. suum-infected patients suffering from symptoms associated to the VLM syndrome. In total, 34 sera from patients with hypereosinophilia and other clinical symptoms associated to the VLM syndrome tested negative for Toxocara sp. antibodies but positive in our newly established As-IB, 30 sera from healthy volunteers, 53 sera from patients with clinically and serologically confirmed toxocarosis and other helminthoses as well as 3 sera from patients with intestinal ascariosis due to Ascaris lumbricoides were included in the study. When evaluated with 30 sera from healthy volunteers and 53 sera from patients suffering from different helminthoses, the calculated specificity of our new As-IB is 95 %. Problems hampering the establishment of simple serological screening tests for specific A. suum antibodies, like extensive antigenic similarities between the nematodes Ascaris and Toxocara or the absence of suitable experimental animals, are discussed. We assume that specific serological testing for antibodies of A. suum is very important for the treatment of individual patients on one hand and seroepidemiological investigations will help to clarify routes of transmission on the other hand. Further studies will be necessary to learn more about the extent of A. suum as a causative agent of the VLM syndrome and the role of pigs and their manure as the main source of human Ascaris infections in Austria and other industrialized countries.