We examined the usefulness of a counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE) technique for detecting antibodies to HTLV-III using sera that previously had been assessed for antibodies to HTLV-III by the standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We selected a subset of 53 sera from patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or the generalized lymphadenopathy syndrome (GLS) in which 81.1% were initially ELISA-positive, and 96.2% were positive by Western blot technique. In our standard HTLV-III CIE technique, 58.5% were positive and repeat testing increased the yield to 67.9%. Varying several parameters of the standard CIE assay did not improve sensitivity. We also studied 20 ELISA-negative and 10 ELISA-borderline sera from normal controls; all were negative by CIE. These results indicate that CIE may be used for detection of human serum antibodies to HTLV-III, but that the present assay was less sensitive than the HTLV-III ELISA.
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