Towards novel HIV-1 serodiagnostic tests without vaccine-induced seroreactivity

O Lagatie, D Lauwers, H Singh, F Vanroye, DJ Stieh, J Vingerhoets, L Lavreys, V Oriol-Mathieu, W Colón, C Verhofstede, K Vercauteren, D Van den Bossche, MG Pau

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Vaccine-induced seroreactivity/positivity (VISR/P) poses a significant and common challenge to HIV vaccine implementation, as up to 95% of vaccine recipients may be misclassified as having HIV infection by current HIV screening and confirmatory serological assays. We investigated whether internal HIV proteins could be used to overcome VISR and discovered a set of 4 antigens (gp41 endodomain, p31 integrase, p17 matrix protein, and Nef) that are recognized by antibodies produced in individuals with HIV infection but not in vaccinated individuals. When evaluated in a multiplex double-antigen bridging ELISA, this antigen combination had specificities of 98.1% prevaccination and 97.1% postvaccination, demonstrating the assay is minimally impacted by vaccine-induced antibodies. The sensitivity was 98.5%, further increasing to 99.7% when p24 antigen testing was included. Results were similar across HIV-1 clades. Although more technical advancements will be desired, this research provides the groundwork for the development of new fourth-generation HIV tests unaffected by VISR.

While the detection of HIV infection is accomplished by several methods, the most common are serological tests that detect host antibodies produced in response to viral infection. However, the use of current serological tests may present a significant challenge to the adoption of an HIV vaccine in the future because the antibodies to HIV antigens detected in currently available tests also tend to be included as antigens in the HIV vaccines in development. The use of these serological tests may thus result in the misclassification of vaccinated HIV-negative individuals, which can have potential for significant harms for individuals and could prevent the widespread adoption and implementation of HIV vaccines. Our study aimed to identify and evaluate target antigens for inclusion in new serological tests that can be used to identify HIV infections without interference from vaccine-induced antibodies but also fit within existing platforms for HIV diagnostics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number3
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Antigens
  • Diagnostics
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Seroreactivity
  • Vaccine


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