Authors: Tedder RS, Dicks S, Ijaz S, et al.
Published in: PLoS One. 2019;14(8):e0215708
Abstract The accurate diagnosis and seroprevalence investigations of Zika virus (ZKV) infections remain complex due to cross reactivity with other flaviviruses. Two assay formats, both using labelled Zika virus NS1 antigen as a revealing agent (a double antigen binding assay, DABA, and an immunoglobulin Ig capture assay, G capture) were initially developed and compared with the indirect EuroimmunZ assay for the detection of anti-Zika antibody. Of 147 pre-Zika period serum samples, 39 (27%) were reactive in the EuroimmunZ or the DABA assays, 28 sera concordantly so. Such false reactivity was influenced by the serotype of Dengue virus (DV) to which individuals had been exposed to. Thus, of sera from patients undergoing secondary Dengue virus infection of known serotype, 91%, 45% and 28% of Dengue virus serotype 2, 3 and 4 respectively were reactive in one or more of the three assays. A novel method of quenching false sero-reactivity was therefore developed for the DABA and G capture assays. Initial addition of a single homologous Dengue virus serotype 3 NS1Ag quench significantly ablated false reactivities in the pre-Zika period sera. An equipotent quadrivalent quench comprising homologous Dengue virus serotypes 1 to 4 NS1Ag was shown to be optimum yet retained sensitivity for the detection of specific anti-Zika antibody. Comparing DABA and G capture assays using quenched and unquenched conjugates in comparison with EuroimmunZ early in the course of PCR-confirmed infection indicated that a significant component of the apparent early anti-ZIKA antibody response is likely to be due to a Zika virus-driven anamnestic anti-Dengue virus response. The increased specificity provided by homologous antigen quenching is likely to provide a significant improvement in sero-diagnostics and to be of clinical value.