Pitfalls in the serological diagnosis of primary human cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy due to different kinetics of IgM clearance and IgG avidity index maturation

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Abstract

Primary infection occurs when seronegative women are infected by human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Diagnosis of primary infection is based on the following: antibody seroconversion, presence of IgM and low IgG avidity index (AI), and presence of DNAemia. The kinetics of HCMV-specific IgM antibody and maturation of AI might be very rapid or long-lasting during primary infection, which makes serological diagnosis insidious. The aims of this study were as follows: (i) to report atypical kinetics of HCMV-specific IgM antibody and AI early after onset of primary HCMV infection in a population of pregnant women, and (ii) to assess the frequency of such results. Altogether, 1309 sequential serum samples collected from 465 pregnant women with primary HCMV infection were included in the study. As a general rule, using the LIAISON® CMVIgMII and LIAISON® CMVIgGAvidityII assays, virus-specific IgM antibody levels decreased, while IgG AI increased over time during the first three months after infection onset. However, early clearance of IgM antibody and/or early IgG AI maturation occurred in 46/426 (10.7%) women. In more details, 20/426 (4.7%) and 26/418 (6.2%) women had undetectable IgM antibody or high IgG AI, respectively, when tested within 1–3 months after well-defined infection onset. Twenty sera from as many women with high IgG AI by the LIAISON assay were further tested for IgG AI by VIDAS® CMVIgGAvidityII and Mikrogen recomLineCMVIgG Avidity assays. Comparable results were obtained with VIDAS, whereas 14/20 sera gave low AI with the Mikrogen assay. In conclusion, about 11% of pregnant women undergoing a primary HCMV infection showed misleading serological results. Additional and appropriate testing might help in reducing the risk of missing HCMV primary infection in pregnancy. Furthermore, preconceptional testing should be strongly recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number396
JournalDiagnostics
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Dating of infection onset
  • DNAemia
  • HCMV primary infection
  • IgG antibody
  • IgG avidity
  • IgM antibody
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry

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