We recently reported that parasite antigens are detectable in the serum of Dirofilaria immitis-infected dogs by counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE). Hybridoma cell lines that produce monoclonal antibodies specific for these antigens were obtained by immunizing mice with a partially purified antigen preparation, fusing spleen cells with SP-2 myeloma cells, and screening cell culture supernatants for antibody by ELISA and CIE inhibition. Antibodies specific for two epitopes shared by the two major circulating parasite antigens were identified. Immunoperoxidase studies showed that the epitopes recognized by the monoclonals were widely distributed in D. immitis, but the female uterus and eggs were particularly strongly labeled. A monoclonal antibody-based ELISA was developed to measure parasite antigens in dog sera. Parasite antigens were detected in 45 of 46 sera from infected dogs but were absent in sera from uninfected dogs and sera from dogs infected with Dipetalonema reconditum. Serum antigen content was significantly correlated with the number of female worms recovered from infected dogs (r = 0.82, p less than 0.001). Antigenemia was first detected 6 mo after infection, and antigen levels remained fairly stable between 9 and 21 mo after infection. Parasite antigen detection with this monoclonal antibody-based ELISA appears to be superior to previously described diagnostic methods for canine dirofilariasis in terms of sensitivity, specificity, and relation to infection intensity.

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