Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

A novel luciferase-linked antibody capture assay (LACA) for the diagnosis of Toxoplasma gondii infection in chickens


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite that causes the most common parasitic zoonosis worldwide in multiples species of mammals and birds. Although free-range chickens may play a role as an important reservoir for T. gondii, there is no reliable and commercially available diagnostic test for this disease in chickens. In this study, we aimed to develop a novel Luciferase-linked Antibody Capture Assay (LACA) for the serodiagnosis of Toxoplasma infection in chickens. Recombinant nanoluciferase fused-T. gondii dense granule antigen 8 (rNluc-GRA8) was produced and applied to LACA assay as a diagnostic antigen. GRA8-LACA was tested with the sera from uninfected and experimentally infected chickens with T. gondii and other parasitic pathogens and showed unexpectedly high sensitivity (90.5%) and specificity (95.4%). Interestingly, E. coli lysate expressing rNluc-GRA8 could be applied in GRA8-LACA with 85.7% sensitivity and an increased specificity (96.9%) that gave better diagnostic performance compared to conventional ELISA. We applied our diagnostic system to examine 267 free-range chicken sera collected from 12 farms and 100 closed-house broiler chicken sera from local poultry abattoirs. The overall seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in free-range chickens was 10.9% (95% CI: 10.6%-11.1%), while no positive case was found in broiler chickens. GRA8-LACA could be a useful diagnostic technique for T. gondii infection in chickens. The detection of T. gondii seropositive chickens in this study warns a potential risk of Toxoplasma transmission by the consumption of raw or undercooked chicken meat.

Keywords: Chickens; GRA8; Luciferase-linked antibody capture assay (LACA); Nanoluciferase; Toxoplasma gondii.


Hieu Duc Duong

FVM- Vietnam National University of Agriculture