Use of overlapping synthetic peptides to characterize samples from blood donors with indeterminate results to hepatitis C virus core antigen.Vox Sang. 1998; 75(1):32-6.VS
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
Despite recent improvements in supplemental assays, isolated reactivity to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen continues as one of the main problems in the confirmation of anti-HCV in blood donors. Reactivity against individual peptides from the c22-3 HCV recombinant antigen has been described as a useful tool for anti-HCV confirmation and donor counseling in such cases.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We used a previously described set of overlapping peptides spanning the entire sequence of the c22-3 antigen to study 87 single serum samples from blood donors with reactivity for c22-3 antigen alone in second generation recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA-2). All of them had been previously studied by RIBA-3, anti-HCV E2 EIA and HCV PCR.
66 of the 87 samples studied could be classified as positive or negative for anti-HCV core using the multipeptide assay and such classification correlated well with the results obtained with RIBA-3 and the anti-E2 EIA. However, some discrepancies were found. The epitopes located along the N-terminal half of the molecule were mainly responsible for the specific antibody recognition but those enclosed within amino acids 1-15 were frequently involved in nonspecific reactivity. Some 38% of samples were considered to have specific antibody to the c22-3 antigen and a further 9% reacted for both anti-E2 and single core peptides that were often involved in specific antibody recognition.
Testing of blood donor samples indeterminate to the HCV c22-3 antigen for reactivity against individual core peptides can confirm the presence of specific antibody and recognize nonspecific reactivity with certain cross-reacting epitopes. Third generation supplemental tests have reduced such false reactivity, but confirmation of samples with anticore alone is still necessary. Single reactivity to the HCV core antigen is likely to reflect prior exposure to the virus, but rarely active infection, either acute or chronic.