Protein microarray-guided development of a highly sensitive and specific dipstick assay for glanders serodiagnostics

in: Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2023)
Wagner, Gabriel E.; Berner, Andreas; Lipp, Michaela; Kohler, Christian; Assig, Karoline; Lichtenegger, Sabine; Saqib, Muhammad; Müller, Elke; Gad, Anne-Marie; Söffing, Hans Hermann; Ehricht, Ralf; Laroucau, Karine; Steinmetz, Ivo; Trinh, Trung T.
Burkholderia mallei, the causative agent of glanders, is a clonal descendant of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, which has lost its environmental reservoir and has a restricted host range. Despite limitations in terms of sensitivity and specificity, complement fixation is still the official diagnostic test for glanders. Therefore, new tools are needed for diagnostics and to study the B. mallei epidemiology. We recently developed a highly sensitive serodiagnostic microarray test for human melioidosis based on the multiplex detection of B. pseudomallei proteins. In this study, we modified our array tests by using anti-horse IgG conjugate and tested sera from B. mallei-infected horses (n = 30), negative controls (n = 39), and horses infected with other pathogens (n = 14). Our array results show a sensitivity of 96.7% (confidence interval [CI] 85.5 to 99.6%) and a specificity of 100.0% (CI, 95.4 to 100.0%). The reactivity pattern of the positive sera on our array test allowed us to identify a set of 12 highly reactive proteins of interest for glanders diagnosis. The B. mallei variants of the three best protein candidates were selected for the development of a novel dipstick assay. Our point-of-care test detected glanders cases in less than 15 min with a sensitivity of 90.0% (CI, 75.7 to 97.1%) and a specificity of 100.0% (CI, 95.4 to 100.0%). The microarray and dipstick can easily be adopted for the diagnosis of both B. mallei and B. pseudomallei infections in different animals. Future studies will show whether multiplex serological testing has the potential to differentiate between these pathogens.

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