AIM: To determine the value of tests for specific IgA, IgE, and IgG avidity in diagnosing Toxoplasma gondii infection during pregnancy. METHODS: In a retrospective study, current serological tests (dye test and three IgM assays with different sensitivities) were compared with immunosorbent agglutination assays (ISAGA) for specific IgA and IgE and an IgG avidity enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Patient group 1 comprised six women with definite or probable infection during pregnancy determined by congenital toxoplasmosis or laboratory results. Group 2 comprised seven women infected during or before 11 pregnancies (two consecutive pregnancies in two patients and three in a third). RESULTS: One patient in group 1 seroconverted during pregnancy. IgA ISAGA and avidity confirmed acute infection when confirmatory IgM ELISA remained negative. In five of six patients from group 1, IgA and IgE ISAGA and avidity confirmed acute infection. In group 2, the dye test titre was raised in seven of 11 pregnancies (six of seven patients). Specific IgM and IgA were positive during all 11 pregnancies. IgE ISAGA was positive in only four of 11 pregnancies (three of seven patients), but negative results in the remainder may exclude acute infection. High avidity antibodies indicative of past infection were found in four of 11 pregnancies (two of seven patients). CONCLUSIONS: Each test improved diagnosis or timing of infection but no single test was ideal. The IgA ISAGA was sensitive and detected seroconversion. Positive IgE ISAGA and low avidity both confirmed infection, whereas negative IgE may exclude acute infection. High avidity diagnosed past infection but persistence of low avidity reduced its value to differentiate acute and past infection. Further studies with larger patient groups are needed to determine the optimum diagnostic strategy. These techniques are valuable in complementing existing tests.
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