PloS one

Enhanced Sensitivity for Detection of HIV-1 p24 Antigen by a Novel Nuclease-Linked Fluorescence Oligonucleotide Assay.

PMID 25915630


The relatively high detection limit of the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) prevents its application for detection of low concentrations of antigens. To increase the sensitivity for detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen, we developed a highly sensitive nuclease-linked fluorescence oligonucleotide assay (NLFOA). Two major improvements were incorporated in NLFOA to amplify antibody-antigen interaction signals and reduce the signal/noise ratio; a large number of nuclease molecules coupled to the gold nanoparticle/streptavidin complex and fluorescent signals generated from fluorescent-labeled oligonucleotides by the nuclease. The detection limit of p24 by NLFOA was 1 pg/mL, which was 10-fold more sensitive than the conventional ELISA (10 pg/mL). The specificity was 100% and the coefficient of variation (CV) was 7.8% at low p24 concentration (1.5 pg/mL) with various concentrations of spiked p24 in HIV-1 negative sera. Thus, NLFOA is highly sensitive, specific, reproducible and user-friendly. The more sensitive detection of low p24 concentrations in HIV-1-infected individuals by NLFOA could allow detection of HIV-1 infections that are missed by the conventional ELISA at the window period during acute infection to further reduce the risk for HIV-1 infection due to the undetected HIV-1 in the blood products. Moreover, NLFOA can be easily applied to more sensitive detection of other antigens.