Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a common cause of acute hepatitis worldwide. Current methods for evaluating the neutralizing activity of HEV-specific antibodies include immunofluorescence focus assays (IFAs) and real-time PCR, which are insensitive and operationally complicated. Here, we developed a high-throughput neutralization assay by measuring secreted pORF2 levels using an HEV antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit based on the highly replicating HEV genotype (gt) 3 strain Kernow. We evaluated the neutralizing activity of HEV-specific antibodies and the sera of vaccinated individuals (n
= 15) by traditional IFA and the novel assay simultaneously. A linear regression analysis shows that there is a high degree of correlation between the two assays. Furthermore, the anti-HEV IgG levels exhibited moderate correlation with the neutralizing titers of the sera of vaccinated individuals, indicating that immunization with gt 1 can protect against gt 3 Kernow infection. We then determined specificity of the novel assay and the potential threshold of neutralizing capacity using anti-HEV IgG positive sera (n
= 27) and anti-HEV IgG negative sera (n
= 23). The neutralizing capacity of anti-HEV IgG positive sera was significantly stronger than that of anti-HEV IgG negative. In addition, ROC curve analysis shows that the potential threshold of neutralizing capacity of sera was 8.07, and the sensitivity and specificity of the novel assay was 88.6% and 100%, respectively. Our results suggest that the neutralization assay using the antigen ELISA kit could be a useful tool for HEV clinical research.
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