Cross-Serotype reactivity of ELISAs used to detect antibodies to the structural proteins of foot-and-mouth disease virus

Antibodies to the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) capsid induced by infection or vaccination can provide serotype-specific protection and be measured using virus neutralization tests and viral structural-protein (SP-)ELISAs. Separate tests are needed for each serotype, but cross-serotype reactions complicate serotyping. In this study, inter-serotypic responses were quantified for five SP-ELISA formats by testing 294 monovalent mainly bovine sera collected following infection, vaccination, or vaccination and infection with one of five serotypes of FMDV. Over half of the samples, representing all three immunization categories, scored positive for at least one heterologous serotype and some scored positive for all serotypes tested. A comparative approach to identifying the strongest reaction amongst serotypes O, A and Asia 1 improved the accuracy of serotyping to 73-100% depending on the serotype and test system, but this method will be undermined where animals have been infected and/or vaccinated with multiple FMDV serotypes. Preliminary studies with stabilized recombinant capsid antigens of serotypes O and A that do not expose internal epitopes showed reduced cross-reactivity, supporting the hypothesis that capsid integrity can affect the serotype-specificity of the SP-ELISAs. The residual cross-reactivity associated with capsid surface epitopes was consistent with the evidence of cross-serotype virus neutralization.

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