Differential diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis using rapid, fully automated immunoassays



We report the development of three rapid, fully automated immunoassays allowing the differential diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis. These assays detect HBsAg, IgM antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (IgM anti-HBc) and IgM antibody to hepatitis A virus (IgM anti-HAV) using the IMx® instrument system. All IMx assays were run in less than 45 minutes and all steps were fully automated including specimen dilution steps. Specimens from blood donors, diagnostic and hospital patients, and individuals with a variety of infectious and immune diseases were tested for IgM anti-HAV (n = 1473) or for IgM anti-HBc (n = 1606) or for HBsAg (n = 9700) by the IMx and commercially available EIA and RIA. Each IMx assay showed 99.8% agreement with current EIA. Reproducibility in all hepatitis IMx assays was significantly better than that observed with manual or semi auto mated assays; within-run and between-run % CV ranged from 2.2 to 4.8 and 3.5 to 10.3 respectively. In 29 acute hepatitis B patients studied, HBsAg and IgM anti-HBc were detected in the first available patient bleed collected from 0 to 4 weeks from the onset of symptoms. IgM anti-HBc persisted at reactive levels in the IMx assay for 1 to 24 weeks (mean 12.1 ± 5.3 weeks) after the patient presented with symptoms. In individuals exposed to hepatitis A, IgM anti-HAV was detectable by IMx by 40 days post exposure (average 33.5 days) and IgM had declined to unreactive levels in IMx for all patients by from 3 to 6 months post exposure. These data demonstrate the use of these rapid IMx assays for differentiation of acute hepatitis A and B.