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New publication in Veterinary Parasitology

2 abr 2024 - 10:45 CET

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the validation of serological methods for detecting anti-Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in humans and animals

Ana Huertas-López, Ana Cantos-Barreda, Roberto Sánchez-Sánchez, Carlos Martínez-Carrasco, Francisco Javier Ibáñez-López, Silvia Martínez-Subiela, José Joaquín Cerón, Gema Álvarez-García


Toxoplasma gondii is a paradigmatic zoonotic parasite from the One Health perspective, since it is broadly distributed and virtually infects all warm-blooded species. A wide variety of serological techniques have been developed to detect T. gondii infection in humans and animals. Our aim was to describe and compare the main characteristics of these serological tests and validation processes and to critically analyze whether these tests meet the standards required to ensure an accurate serological diagnosis. The current systematic review and meta-analysis included 134 studies that were published from 2013 to 2023. QUADAS 2 tool was used to evaluate the quality of the included studies. A total of 52 variables related to the characteristics of the techniques and analytical and diagnostic validation parameters were studied. A wider panel of tests was developed for humans, including techniques exclusively developed for humans that involve costly equipment and the measurement of different Ig isotypes that are considered biomarkers of congenital toxoplasmosis. Studies conducted in humans frequently employed commercial techniques as reference tests, measured different immunoglobulin isotypes with a predominance for IgG (>50%) and discriminated between acute and chronic infections. In animals, the most commonly used reference techniques were in-house tests, which almost exclusively detected IgG. Common limitations identified in a large number of studies were some misunderstandings of the terms “gold standard” and “reference test” and the absence of information about the negative and positive control sera used or the exact cutoff employed, which were independent of the quality of the study. There is a lack of analytical validation, with few evaluations of cross-reactivity with other pathogens. Diagnostic odds ratio values showed that indirect ELISA based on native or chimeric antigens performed better than other tests. The reproducibility of serological test results in both humans and animals is not guaranteed due to a lack of relevant information and analytical validation. Thus, several key issues should be considered in the future, including interlaboratory ring trials.

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