This study reports a new capture ELISA (MM3-SERO) for the serodiagnosis of sheep fascioliasis, based on the use of the monoclonal antibody (mAb) MM3. Like our previously reported indirect ELISA method, based on the use of a FPLC-purified fraction (fraction IV) of the Fasciola hepatica excretion/secretion antigens (ESAs), this new test was able to detect animals infected with very small numbers of metacercariae (5–40) and showed no cross-reaction with sera from sheep infected with other parasites, i.e., Moniezia spp., Cysticercus tenuicollis, and Dicrocoelium dendriticum. In contrast with these 2 methods, some sera (mainly those obtained from animals infected with D. dendriticum) showed high reactivities in indirect ELISA with whole F. hepatica ESAs used as control. Interestingly, the MM3-SERO ELISA has a better signal-to-noise ratio than the fraction-IV ELISA, thus allowing detection of seroconversion in infected sheep on average 1 wk earlier (3.2 ± 0.4 wk postinfection [PI] for MM3-SERO ELISA vs. 4.2 ± 0.9 wk PI for fraction IV ELISA). Moreover, the antibody response detected with MM3-SERO ELISA was more uniform, with seroconversion always occurring at 4 wk PI in sheep with 1–2 flukes and at 3 wk PI in sheep with more than 2 flukes. The MM3-SERO ELISA was also used to evaluate the kinetics of antibody response against MM3-recognized antigens in sera from sheep experimentally infected with F. hepatica and then treated with triclabendazole. Our results showed that antibody levels dropped by about 25% during the 4-wk observation period following the flukicide treatment, whereas they remained invariably high in all sheep left untreated. We conclude that the MM3-SERO ELISA is a 100% sensitive and 100% specific test for the early serodiagnosis of sheep fascioliasis. Preliminary studies in our laboratory seem to indicate that this method may also be useful for the determination of anti–F. hepatica antibodies in serum and milk of other ruminants. A commercial version of MM3-SERO is currently available from BIO X Diagnostics (La Jemelle, Belgium).
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