Background Slaughter pigs are monitored for the presence of the zoonotic pathogen Salmonella, using both serology and bacteriology. ELISAs used to investigate pig herds are based on the detection of antibodies against components of the Salmonella cell envelope. Nearly all Salmonella isolates in food-producing animals are serovars of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica, distributed over various serogroups as determined by the composition of their lipopolysaccharide (LPS). ELISAs for Salmonella serology are usually based on serogroup B and C1 LPS, often combined with serogroup D or E LPS. Although C2 LPS may improve serology, use of C2 LPS in a broad ELISA was never achieved. Results To enable detection of serum antibodies against Salmonella in pigs, a bead-based suspension array was developed with five LPS variants (B, 2Ă— C1, C2, D1), each conjugated to a different bead set using triazine chemistry. Reactivity of the beads was confirmed with rabbit agglutination sera and with experimental pig sera. With a mixture of bead sets, 175 sera from slaughter pigs were investigated for the presence of antibodies against Salmonella. With a combination of ROC analysis (B and D LPS) and a prevalence estimation based on historic data (C LPS), individual cut-offs were defined for each LPS-conjugated bead set, and assay performance was evaluated. Results of the suspension array (BC1C1C2D) suggest that more pigs are seroconverted than indicated by a commercial BC1D1-ELISA, and that most of these extra seropositive samples give a signal on one of the beads with C LPS. These results show that expansion of a standard panel with more C LPS variants improves antibody detection. Conclusions A suspension array for Salmonella serology in pigs was developed, that detects more seropositive sera than ELISA, which is achieved by expanding the panel of Salmonella LPS variants, including C2 LPS. The results demonstrate that bead-based suspension arrays allow for testing of pig sera, with the advantage of being able to set cut-offs per antigen. Ultimately, this type of assay can be applied in routine veterinary serology to test for antibodies against multiple Salmonella serovars (or other pathogens) in one single serum sample, using up-to-date antigen panels.
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