Comprehensive Comparison of Seven SARS-CoV-2-Specific Surrogate Virus Neutralization and Anti-Spike IgG Antibody Assays Using a Live-Virus Neutralization Assay as a Reference

Marianne Graninger, Claudia Maria Jani, Elisabeth Reuberger, Katja Prüger, Philipp Gaspar, David Niklas Springer, Christian Borsodi, Lisa Weidner, Susanne Rabady, Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl, Christof Jungbauer, Eva Höltl, Judith Helene Aberle, Karin Stiasny, Lukas Weseslindtner

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

Abstract

Neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) are considered a valuable marker for measuring humoral immunity against SARS-CoV-2. However, live-virus neutralization tests (NTs) require high-biosafety-level laboratories and are time-consuming. Therefore, surrogate virus neutralization tests (sVNTs) have been widely applied, but unlike most anti-spike (S) antibody assays, NTs and sVNTs are not harmonized, requiring further evaluation and comparative analyses. This study compared seven commercial sVNTs and anti-S-antibody assays with a live-virus NT as a reference, using a panel of 720 single and longitudinal serum samples from 666 convalescent patients after SARS-CoV-2 infection. The sensitivity of these assays for detecting antibodies ranged from 48 to 94% after PCR-confirmed infection and from 56% to 100% relative to positivity in the in-house live-virus NT. Furthermore, we performed receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses to determine which immunoassays were most suitable for assessing nAb titers exceeding a specific cutoff (NT titer, ≥80) and found that the NeutraLISA and the cPass assays reached the highest area under the curve (AUC), exceeding 0.91. In addition, when the assays were compared for their correlation with nAb kinetics over time in a set of longitudinal samples, the extent of the measured decrease of nAbs after infection varied widely among the evaluated immunoassays. Finally, in vaccinated convalescent patients, high titers of nAbs exceeded the upper limit of the evaluated assays' quantification ranges. Based on data from this study, we conclude that commercial immunoassays are acceptable substitutes for live-virus NTs, particularly when additional adapted cutoffs are employed to detect nAbs beyond a specific threshold titer. IMPORTANCE While the measurement of neutralizing antibodies is considered a valuable tool in assessing protection against SARS-CoV-2, neutralization tests employ live-virus isolates and cell culture, requiring advanced laboratory biosafety levels. Including a large sample panel (over 700 samples), this study provides adapted cutoff values calculated for seven commercial immunoassays (including four surrogate neutralization assays and a protein-based microarray) that robustly correlate with specific titers of neutralizing antibodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0231422
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2023

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