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Performance evaluation of 3 serodiagnostic peptide epitopes and the derived multi-epitope peptide OvNMP-48 for detection of Onchocerca volvulus infection

Lagatie, Ole, Verheyen, Ann, Nijs, Erik, Batsa Debrah, Linda, Debrah, Yaw A., Stuyver, Lieven J.
Parasitology research 2019 v.118 no.7 pp. 2263-2270
Brugia malayi, Onchocerca volvulus, cross reaction, diagnostic techniques, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, epitope mapping, epitopes, helminths, peptides, proteome
Current diagnostic tools to determine infection with the helminth parasite Onchocerca volvulus have limited performance characteristics. In previous studies, a proteome-wide screen was conducted to identify linear epitopes in this parasite’s proteome, resulting in the discovery of 1110 antigenic peptide fragments. Here, we investigated three of these peptides using peptide ELISA’s and evaluated their sensitivity and specificity. Epitope mapping was performed, and peptides were constructed that contained only the minimal epitope, flanked by a linker. Investigation of the performance of these minimal epitope peptides demonstrated that all three of them have a specificity (as defined by lack of response in non-helminth-infected individuals) of 100%, low cross-reactivity (5.6%, 5.6%, and 9.3%, respectively), but low sensitivity (36.9%, 46.5%, and 41.2%, respectively). Some cross-reactivity was observed in samples from individuals infected with soil-transmitted helminths or Brugia malayi. Combining these three minimal epitopes in a single peptide, called OvNMP-48, resulted in a performance that exceeded the sum of the individual epitopes, with a sensitivity of 76.0%, a specificity of 97.4%, and a cross-reactivity of 11.1%. Cross-reactivity was observed in some STH and Brugia malayi-infected individuals. This work opens the opportunity to start exploring how these novel linear epitope markers might become part of the O. volvulus diagnostic toolbox.