Accurate Antemortem Diagnosis of Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) Based on Detecting Intrathecal Antibodies againstSarcocystis neuronaUsing the SnSAG2 and SnSAG4/3 ELISAs

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Abstract

Background:

Recent work demonstrated the value of antigen-specific antibody indices (AI and C-value) to detect intrathecal antibody production against Sarcocystis neurona for antemortem diagnosis of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM).

Objectives:

The study was conducted to assess whether the antigen-specific antibody indices can be reduced to a simple serum : cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) titer ratio to achieve accurate EPM diagnosis.

Animals:

Paired serum and CSF samples from 128 horses diagnosed by postmortem examination. The sample set included 44 EPM cases, 35 cervical-vertebral malformation (CVM) cases, 39 neurologic cases other than EPM or CVM, and 10 non-neurologic cases.

Methods:

Antibodies against S. neurona were measured in serum and CSF pairs using the SnSAG2 and SnSAG4/3 (SnSAG2, 4/3) ELISAs, and the ratio of each respective serum titer to CSF titer was determined. Likelihood ratios and diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were calculated based on serum titers, CSF titers, and serum : CSF titer ratios.

Results:

Excellent diagnostic sensitivity and specificity was obtained from the SnSAG2, 4/3 serum : CSF titer ratio. Sensitivity and specificity of 93.2 and 81.1%, respectively, were achieved using a ratio cutoff of ≤100, whereas sensitivity and specificity were 86.4 and 95.9%, respectively, if a more rigorous cutoff of ≤50 was used. Antibody titers in CSF also provided good diagnostic accuracy. Serum antibody titers alone yielded much lower sensitivity and specificity.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance:

The study confirms the value of detecting intrathecal antibody production for antemortem diagnosis of EPM, and they further show that the antigen-specific antibody indices can be reduced in practice to a simple serum : CSF titer ratio.

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