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J Clin Microbiol. 1989 May; 27(5): 977–982.
PMCID: PMC267466

Reliable confirmation of antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) with an enzyme-linked immunoassay using recombinant antigens derived from the HIV-1 gag, pol, and env genes.


An enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) using six recombinant proteins corresponding to large segments of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gag, pol, and env gene products (HIVAGEN; SmithKline Bio-Science Laboratories, Van Nuys, Calif.) was developed to confirm the presence of antibodies to HIV-1 in sera reactive in the whole-cell-derived virion screening ELISAs. Serum samples for testing were obtained from healthy seronegative blood donors and from the different categories of HIV-infected individuals (asymptomatic, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]-related complex, and AIDS). A positive reaction was defined as reactivity against an env and at least one other (either gag or pol) HIV-1 gene product; negative was defined as no reaction with any antigen; and indeterminate was defined as reactivity with gag or pol (or both) or with env alone. None of the 1,180 serum samples from healthy seronegative blood donors gave a positive result, and only 49 of these samples (4%) gave indeterminate results. The recombinant HIV-1 antigen ELISA panel identified seropositive individuals with a high degree of accuracy, as a positive reaction was seen with 99.3% of asymptomatic healthy seropositive individuals, 98.1% of patients with AIDS-related complex, and 90.4% of patients with AIDS. None of the 725 HIV-1-seropositive subjects had a negative test result. Reactivity with the Kp41 antigen, corresponding to an amino-terminal portion of the gp41 envelope glycoprotein, by itself demonstrated 100% sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing seronegative from seropositive sera. A subset of seronegative and seropositive samples were tested both with the recombinant HIV-1 antigen ELISA panel and by Western blot (Du Pont Co.). The recombinant HIV-1 antigen ELISA panel accurately identified more seropositive and seronegative samples and had fewer indeterminate results than did Western blot (interpreted by Du Pont criteria).

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