Journal Of Immunological Methods
Inhalation anthrax is a rare but acute infectious disease following adsorption of Bacillus anthracis spores through the lungs. The disease has a high fatality rate if untreated, but early and correct diagnosis has a significant impact on case patient recovery. The early symptoms of inhalation anthrax are, however, non-specific and current anthrax diagnostics are primarily dependent upon culture and confirmatory real-time PCR. Consequently, there may be a significant delay in diagnosis and targeted treatment. Rapid, culture-independent diagnostic tests are therefore needed, particularly in the context of a large scale emergency response. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of monoclonal antibodies to detect anthrax toxin proteins that are secreted early in the course of B. anthracis infection using a time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) immunoassay. We selected monoclonal antibodies that could detect protective antigen (PA), as PA83 and also PA63 and LF in the lethal toxin complex. The assay reliable detection limit (RDL) was 6.6310(-6)M (0.551ng/ml) for PA83 and 2.5110(-5)M (1.58ng/ml) for PA63. Despite variable precision and accuracy of the assay, PA was detected in 9 out of 10 sera samples from anthrax confirmed case patients with cutaneous (n=7), inhalation (n=2), and gastrointestinal (n=1) disease. Anthrax Immune Globulin (AIG), which has been used in treatment of clinical anthrax, interfered with detection of PA. This study demonstrates a culture-independent method of diagnosing anthrax through the use of monoclonal antibodies to detect PA and LF in the lethal toxin complex.