U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2017, 2, 24; doi:10.3390/tropicalmed2030024


U.S. government work.


The rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) is routinely used in the United States to measure rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (rVNA). RFFIT has a long history of reproducible and reliable results. The test has been modified over the years to use smaller volumes of reagents and samples, but requires a 50 μL minimum volume of test serum. To conduct pathogenesis studies, small laboratory animals such as mice are regularly tested for rVNA, but the minimum volume for a standard RFFIT may be impossible to obtain, particularly in scenarios of repeated sampling. To address this problem, a micro-neutralization test was developed previously. In the current study, the micro-neutralization test was compared to the RFFIT using 129 mouse serum samples from rabies vaccine studies. Using a cut-off value of 0.1 IU/mL, the sensitivity, specificity, and concordance of the micro-neutralization test were 100%, 97.5%, and 98%, respectively. The geometric mean titer of all samples above the cut-off was 2.0 IU/mL using RFFIT and 3.4 IU/mL using the micro-neutralization test, indicating that titers determined using the micro-neutralization test are not equivalent to RFFIT titers. Based on four rVNA-positive hamster serum samples, the intra-assay coefficient of variability was 24% and inter-assay coefficient of variability was 30.4%. These results support continued use of the micro-neutralization test to determine rabies virus neutralizing antibody titers for low-volume serum samples.

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