Cai W, Tang ZM, Wen GP, Wang SL, Ji WF, Yang M, Ying D, Zheng ZZ*, Xia NS*
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the aetiological agent of enterically transmitted hepatitis. The traditional methods for evaluating neutralizing antibody titres against HEV are real-time PCR and the immunofluorescence foci assay (IFA), which are poorly repeatable and operationally complicated, factors that limit their applicability to high-throughput assays. In this study, we developed a novel high-throughput neutralizing assay based on biotin-conjugated p239 (HEV recombinant capsid proteins, a.a. 368–606) and staining with allophycocyanin-conjugated streptavidin (streptavidin APC) to amplify the fluorescence signal. A linear regression analysis indicated that there was a high degree of correlation between IFA and the novel assay. Using this method, we quantitatively evaluated the neutralization of sera from HEV-infected and vaccinated macaques. The anti-HEV IgG level had good concordance with the neutralizing titres of macaque sera. However, the neutralization titres of the sera were also influenced by anti-HEV IgM responses. Further analysis also indicated that, although vaccination with HEV vaccine stimulated higher anti-HEV IgG and neutralization titres than infection with HEV in macaques, the proportions of neutralizing antibodies in the infected macaques’ sera were higher than in the vaccinated macaques with the same anti-HEV IgG levels. Thus, the infection more efficiently stimulated neutralizing antibody responses.