30 March 2021
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) affects predominantly young patients in highly endemic areas. Improved serological methods are needed for the follow-up of CE cases, especially given the high rates of post-surgical relapse that require detection as soon as possible.
We designed a study to investigate the value of antigenic proteins extracted from Echinococcus granulosus ( E. granulosus) protoscoleces, and of recombinant B2t and 2B2t proteins, for assessing the efficacy of surgical treatment carried out on CE-affected children. This study was performed on 278 plasma samples collected from 59 Tunisian children surgically treated for CE and monitored for 3 years post-surgery. The patients were classified according to post-surgical outcomes into a “non-relapsed” (NRCE) and a “relapsed” (RCE) group. We performed in-house ELISAs to measure anti-B2t and anti-2B2t IgG and immunoblotting for the detection of IgG against SDS-PAGE-resolved E. granulosus protoscoleces-specific antigens. The Wilcoxon test was applied to assess anti-B2t and anti-2B2t IgG levels. We applied the Cochran Q test to compare the distribution of immunoblotting antigenic bands between 1-month and 1-year post-surgery.
The probability of being “relapse-free” when a decrease in antibody titers occurred between 1 month and 1 year post-surgery was 81% and 75%, respectively, for anti-B2t and anti-2B2t IgG. We identified five protoscolex protein bands of 20, 26/27, 30, 40 and 46 kDa as highly immunoreactive by immunoblot for both RCE and NRCE patients at 1 month post-surgery, and significantly lower immunoreactivity after 1 year ( p < 10 –4) for NRCE compared to RCE patients. The proteins at 26/27 and 40 kDa displayed the best performance in predicting the outcome, with an 84% probability of being relapse-free when the reactivity against the 40 kDa antigen, the doublet at 26/27 kDa, or both was absent or disappeared between 1 month and 1 year post-surgery, and a 93% probability of being relapsed when both bands remained reactive or increased in intensity between the two time points.