Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21072233
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2010 Nov;4(11):e872
A specific and sensitive serodiagnostic test for Mycobacterium ulcerans infection would greatly assist the diagnosis of Buruli ulcer and would also facilitate seroepidemiological surveys. By comparative genomics, we identified 45 potential M. ulcerans specific proteins, of which we were able to express and purify 33 in E. coli. Sera from 30 confirmed Buruli ulcer patients, 24 healthy controls from the same endemic region and 30 healthy controls from a non-endemic region in Benin were screened for antibody responses to these specific proteins by ELISA. Serum IgG responses of Buruli ulcer patients were highly variable, however, seven proteins (MUP045, MUP057, MUL_0513, Hsp65, and the polyketide synthase domains ER, AT propionate, and KR A) showed a significant difference between patient and non-endemic control antibody responses. However, when sera from the healthy control subjects living in the same Buruli ulcer endemic area as the patients were examined, none of the proteins were able to discriminate between these two groups. Nevertheless, six of the seven proteins showed an ability to distinguish people living in an endemic area from those in a non-endemic area with an average sensitivity of 69% and specificity of 88%, suggesting exposure to M. ulcerans. Further validation of these six proteins is now underway to assess their suitability for use in Buruli ulcer seroepidemiological studies. Such studies are urgently needed to assist efforts to uncover environmental reservoirs and understand transmission pathways of the M. ulcerans.