Sera from two sheep experimentally infected with ovine lentivirus (OLV) and from 186 sheep selected from flocks with known high or low prevalence of infection or on the basis of virological or histopathological examination were simultaneously tested by whole virus (WV) ELISA, recombinant transmembrane (r-TM) ELISA and AGID assay. Antigens for both the WV ELISA and AGID were prepared from an Italian field isolate; recombinant antigen was derived from the N′-terminal region of the transmembrane envelope protein of strain K1514. The WV ELISA detected the highest number of seropositives, followed by the r-TM ELISA and AGID test. The sensitivity and specificity of the r-TM ELISA relative to the WV ELISA were 0.66 and 0.95, respectively. Immunoblot analysis of 14 WV ELISA-positive and r-TM ELISA-negative sera showed that the major core protein was immunodominant on WV antigen. It is concluded that the r-TM ELISA was more sensitive than the AGID test but less sensitive that the WV ELISA, particularly for detecting antibodies in the early stages of infection.
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