To assess the applicability of a whole-cell ELISA (WCE) with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS) immunotyping of , 675 meningococcal isolates obtained in 1989 and 1990 in the Netherlands and 57 isolates collected in 1974, of which the immunotype had been determined previously by micro-precipitation, were analysed. Despite the lack of specific MAbs for L2 and L4, an algorithm was developed for the assignment of immunotypes on the basis of the reaction patterns of the reference strains and these isolates to a combination of 14 MAbs. The immunotypes found by WCE were in accordance with those obtained by microprecipitation and the results from WCE were reproducible. The distribution of immunotypes among isolates of the various serogroups in the Netherlands in 1989-1990 is presented. Based on the reaction patterns of the isolates, two main categories of related immunotypes could be distinguished among isolates of serogroups B and C: L2/L4 and L3/L1/L8. Some isolates of the latter category were of one immunotype, but many isolates expressed one or two additional immunotypes, either strongly or weakly, indicating that the differences in this category are quantitative rather than qualitative. The results of this study have demonstrated that the WCE method for LOS immunotyping is easily applicable and provides better definition of test strains for in-vitro bactericidal assays and research into pathogenesis.


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