Sera of 22 patients with active and 13 with inactive coccidioidomycosis, as well as 15 healthy subjects who were skin-test positive to coccidioidin and 39 healthy subjects who were coccidioidin skin-test negative, were assayed for immune complexes. Circulating immune complexes were measured by the C1q-binding assay, the C1q-solid phase assay, the monoclonal rheumatoid factor inhibition assay, and the monoclonal rheumatoid factor solid phase assay. An increased concentration of circulating immune complexes was detected in 73% of those with active disease by at least one assay compared with 13% of the healthy controls. Significantly increased levels of immune complexes were detected in sera of patients with active coccidioidomycosis by the C1q-binding assay (P<0.001), the C1q-solid phase assay (P<0.001), the monoclonal rheumatoid factor inhibition assay (P < 0.005), and the monoclonal rheumatoid solid phase assay (P < 0.05) compared with the results obtained in the 54 healthy subjects. In contrast, those with inactive disease did not show significantly increased concentrations of circulating immune complexes. Sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation of patients' sera established that the immune complexes were of intermediate size, sedimenting between the 6.6S and 19S markers. Immune complexes were shown to contain both coccidioidin antigen and anticoccidioidin antibody. In addition, a radioimmunoassay was developed to quantitate coccidioidin antigen-containing immune complexes. The latter assay proved highly sensitive in detecting immune complexes in patients with active coccidioidomycosis.
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