Evaluation of ELISA and dot blots for the serodiagnosis of neurocysticercosis, in children found to have single or multiple enhancing lesions in computerized tomographic scans of the brain.
Although human neurocysticercosis (NCC) is being increasingly recognized in children, diagnosis of the disease can be difficult, and the 'gold standard' criteria that indicate an unambiguous case have still to be established. In the present study, the performances of an ELISA and dot-blot assay, for the detection of antibodies against antigens from larval Taenia solium, were investigated and compared, using sera, from children aged 5-12 years, that were diluted to at least 1:400. Eighty of the subjects (20 aged 5-<8 years and 60 older children) each had the signs and symptoms of NCC, including one brain lesion (N=69) or multiple brain lesions (N=11) that were visible by computed tomography. Another 100 sera, from children who had tubercular meningitis (N=20) or a parasitic disease other than taeniasis/cysticercosis (N=20) or, apart from a minor respiratory-tract infection, appeared healthy (N=60), were also investigated. Most (86%) of the cases of NCC had presented with focal seizures. Analysis of antibody response indicated that the optimum threshold titres for seropositivity were 1:800 for the ELISA and 1:6400 for the dot-blot assays. When used with these thresholds, the ELISA gave a sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values and diagnostic efficacy of 89%, 81%, 79%, 90%, 85%, respectively. The corresponding values for the dot-blot assay were similar, at 89%, 73%, 72.5%, 89%, 82%, respectively. Both assays were more sensitive, in the detection of the specific antibody response, when used among the paediatric cases of NCC who had multiple brain lesions (100%) than when used among the single-lesion cases (87%). As the ELISA gave higher specificity and diagnostic efficacy than the dot-blot assay, it should be considered the better method for the serological confirmation of NCC in children.
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