A solid-phase radioimmunoassay (RIA) was used to determine the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies to measles virus in human serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Purified measles virus was adsorbed on to polystyrene balls, which were then exposed to serial dilutions of test serum or CSF. The presence of antibody was measured by its capacity to bind I-labelled specific anti-human IgG or IgM.

Serum from a variety of patients as well as measles-immune clinically healthy persons were tested; binding ratios (using negative human serum controls) were usually between 10 and 30, but with subactue sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) ratios were as high as 50. Often CSF specimens tested, all but one, which was taken early in the convalescent phase of measles infection, had detectable IgG antibody. In six patients with acute measles, IgM antibodies were found in all serum specimens taken one or more days after the onset of rash. Maximal titres of 1:10000 to 1:40000 were found about 7 days later. Thereafter, IgM titres decreased rapidly but were still detectable at 40 days. A purified ribonucleoprotein of measles virus was also used successfully as an antigen in this RIA method.


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