Preparations of the two most immunoreactive Echinococcus granulosus antigens (antigens 4 and 5) from sheep hydatid fluid, purified by a simplified method, and monospecific antisera against antigens 4 and 5, prepared by a new procedure, were used to measure the antigenic concentrations of antigens 4 and 5 in swine, sheep, and human hydatid fluids from pulmonary or hepatic cysts. Two bovine samples and two commercial preparations were also tested. The concentration of both antigens was significantly higher in sheep and human hydatid fluids than in swine hydatid fluid. The antigenic content of the two bovine samples and of the two commercial preparations was below the sensitivity level of the method employed. Independently of the species tested, the amount of Echinococcus antigens was greater in hepatic than in pulmonary cysts. The ratio between the concentrations of antigens 4 and 5 was constant at about 1:10 in the samples from various organs and from different species. When there were enough samples for statistical analysis a linear correlation was found between the contents of these two antigenic components but there was none between the amounts of proteins and the antigenic concentrations in the single cysts. Sheep hydatid fluid must therefore be considered the best source of antigenic material for diagnostic purposes even though in human cysts the antigenic fraction is less contaminated by serum proteins. We describe a reliable method of standardising antigenic material for the immunodiagnosis of hydatid disease.
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