Only "fair" agreement has been shown between the Abbott and DuPont enzyme linked immunosorbent assays when used for the detection of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antigen in serum samples from asymptomatic HIV antibody positive homosexual men. To investigate the discrepancies between the two ELISA results, further experiments were performed. The rabbit detector antibody solutions of both tests were western blotted and showed that the DuPont test was specific for p24; the Abbott detector antibody had bands for p18, p41-43, gp120 as well as p24. By using dilutions of a known amount of HIV antigen, the Abbott test could detect 20 pg/ml p24; the DuPont test could detect 30 pg/ml p24. The DuPont test was also more sensitive than the Abbott test at detecting a synthetic 104mer peptide of p24. Within the 104mer sequence two regions (294-318, 334-348 amino acids) inhibited the binding of the DuPont detector antibody, but no blocking was observed with the Abbott antibody. Although the Abbott test was slightly more sensitive at detecting HIV protein than the DuPont test, the major difference between the tests was in the molecular specificity, in that the Abbott test detected proteins other than p24. This may not be important for detecting antigen in cell culture, but it may affect the detection of antigenaemia in patients' sera.
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