Background The diagnosis of active Toxocara canis infections in humans is challenging. Larval stages of T. canis do not replicate in human tissues and disease may result from infection with a single T. canis larva. Recently, we developed a nanobody-based electrochemical magnetosensor assay with superior sensitivity to detect T. canis excretory-secretory (TES) antigens. Here, we evaluate the performance of the assay in children from an Ecuadorian birth cohort that followed children to five years of age. Methods Samples were selected based on the presence of peripheral blood eosinophilia and relative eosinophil counts. The samples were analyzed by the nanobody-based electrochemical magnetosensor assay, which utilizes a bivalent biotinylated nanobody as capturing agent on the surface of streptavidin pre-coated paramagnetic beads. Detection was performed by a different nanobody chemically labelled with horseradish peroxidase. Results Of 87 samples tested, 33 (38%) scored positive for TES antigen recognition by the electrochemical magnetosensor assay. The average concentration of TES antigen in serum was 2.1 ng/ml (SD = 1.1). The positive result in the electrochemical assay was associated with eosinophilia > 19% (P = 0.001). Parasitological data were available for 57 samples. There was no significant association between positivity by the electrochemical assay and the presence of other soil-transmitted helminth infections. Conclusions Our nanobody-based electrochemical assay provides highly sensitive quantification of TES antigens in serum and has potential as a valuable tool for the diagnosis of active human toxocariasis.
- Electrochemical assay