THE ABILITY to detect microbial capsular antigens that are released from growing organisms into biological fluids has provided a valuable adjunct to the diagnosis of several types of infection (Shackelford, Campbell and Feigin, 1974; Miller , 1978). On the other hand, the study of the contribution of capsular antigens to the pathobiology of infectious diseases is limited by the techniques of measurement that are available at present. For example, counter immunoelectrophoresis (CIE), the current method of choice for detection of capsular polysaccharide antigens (Rytel, 1975), is only semi-quantitative and lacks sensitivity for some antigens.

Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) has recently evolved as a quantitative and extremely sensitive method of measuring soluble proteins, including microbial protein antigens (Engvall and Perlmann, 1971; Voller, Bartlett and Bidwell, 1978). It has recently been shown that polysaccharide antigens can also be detected by EIA (Crosson, Winkelstein and Moxon, 1978). There is now a particular need for a more precise method of assay for the capsular polysaccharide of because of the renewed interest in the interaction of this antigen with host inflammatory processes (Winkelstein, Bocchini and Schiffman, 1976; Dhingra, Williams and Reed, 1977; Coonrod and Jenkins, 1979) and because of its immunogenical potential (Smit , 1977). The present investigation was undertaken to apply EIA to the quantitative study of the type III capsular polysaccharide in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in an experimental model of pneumococcal meningitis in rabbits.


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