SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.33 issue7The hemolytic component of cancer anemia: effects of osmotic and metabolic stress on the erythrocytes of rats bearing multifocal inoculations of the Walker 256 tumorInfusions of AP5 into the basolateral amygdala impair the formation, but not the expression, of step-down inhibitory avoidance author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0100-879XOn-line version ISSN 1414-431X

Braz J Med Biol Res vol.33 n.7 Ribeirão Preto July 2000 

Braz J Med Biol Res, July 2000, Volume 33(7) 823-827

The use of filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde in ELISA

G.H.T.S. Barbosa1, E.M. Santana1,2, A.M.P. Almeida4, A.M. Araujo5, O. Fatibello-Filho6 and L.B. Carvalho Jr.1,3

1Laboratório de Imunopatologia Keizo Asami, Departamentos de 2Medicina Tropical and 3Bioquímica, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, 4Centro de Pesquisas Aggeu Magalhães, FIOCRUZ, and 5Fundação de Hematologia e Hemoterapia de Pernambuco, Recife, PE, Brasil
6Departamento de Química, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos, SP, Brasil

Material and Methods
Results and Discussion
Correspondence and Footnotes


F1-antigen purified from Yersinia pestis was covalently linked to 5-mm diameter filter paper discs plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde. These discs were used both for ELISA and dot-ELISA for the detection of anti-F1 IgG in rabbits. The best conditions were achieved using 1.25 µg of F1 antigen/disc, 3% w/v skim milk in PBS as blocking agent, anti-IgG peroxidase conjugate diluted 12,000 times, and serum from rabbits immunized or not against Y. pestis, diluted 6,400 times. The absorbance values obtained from the comparative study between this procedure and conventional ELISA were not significantly different but the low cost of the reagents employed in ELISA using the filter paper discs plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde makes this method economically attractive.

Key words: filter paper, polyvinyl alcohol, glutaraldehyde, ELISA, dot-ELISA, plague


Plague, an acute tropical disease caused by Yersinia pestis, is still an important public health issue in developing countries (1). Human cases of plague, which had virtually disappeared in Madagascar after the 1930's, reappeared in 1990 with more than 200 confirmed or presumptive cases reported each year since then (2). From 1980 to 1993, 763 cases of plague were recorded in Brazil (3). This disease is unlikely to disappear due to the wide range of mammalian hosts and their attendant fleas (4). On the other hand, the presence of significant levels of specific anti-F1A antibodies among rodents and wild or domestic carnivores (dogs and cats) indicates that all Brazilian plague foci remain active in spite of the absence of human cases (5).

The Centro de Pesquisas Aggeu Magalhães/FIOCRUZ is responsible for monitoring the occurrence of new plague cases in Northeastern Brazil. The serologic diagnosis is made by the passive hemagglutination assay (PHA), as recommended by the World Health Organization Committee specialized in plague.

Almeida and Ferreira (6) evaluated the results obtained from PHA, ELISA and dot-ELISA for the detection of plague-infected patients from Northeastern Brazil and demonstrated that PHA is not a sensitive test due to the large number of false-negative results. Thus, the serologic diagnosis of plague is still an important subject for scientific investigation.

Detection of anti-F1 IgG by ELISA has also been used for sero-epidemiological studies in Madagascar (7). Modern approaches have been reported such as the use of a fiber optic biosensor (8,9) and a PCR-based procedure (10). In our laboratories, different methods for the serologic diagnosis of this pathology have been proposed (10-14). Dacron plates and polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde discs have been used in these procedures.

In the present study, filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde was investigated as support for the serologic diagnosis of plague.

Material and Methods

Synthesis of filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde

Polyvinyl alcohol (0.5 g; Reagen, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil) was dissolved in 5 ml of deionized water by heating. After cooling at 25oC, glutaraldehyde (1.25 ml of 25% w/v solution; Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, MO, USA) and H2SO4 (1 ml of a 0.3 M solution) were successively added under stirring. This mixture (about 7.3 ml) was then poured onto a Petri dish (9 cm in diameter) and 1 sheet of filter paper (ADVANTEC Toyo Roshi International, Inc., Dublin, CA, USA), measuring 5.5 cm in diameter, grade 2, was immersed in the mixture on the Petri dish. The soaked filter paper was allowed to dry at 25oC lying on the top of a beaker for 2-3 h. The entire procedure was carried out under a hood.

Antigen and sera

F1 antigen (4 mg/ml) from Y. pestis was obtained by the method of Baker et al. (15). Sera from rabbits immunized or not against Y. pestis and 67 µM phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), pH 7.2, containing 1 M NaCl were used as control. Goat anti-rabbit IgG labeled with horseradish peroxidase was purchased from Sigma.

Antigen immobilization

The plasticized filter paper was cut into small discs using a paper punch (5 mm in diameter). The discs were then introduced into microwells of tissue culture plates containing 100 µl of F1 antigen, diluted to 1:320 (1.25 µg) and incubated at 25oC for 1 h. These antigen/plasticized discs were then washed twice with PBS containing 0.05% w/v Tween 20 (Sigma), blocked with skim milk (3% w/v in PBS; Molico milk, Nestlé) at 4oC for 12 h and washed once with PBS/Tween.


The antigen/plasticized discs were incubated with 100 µl of serum diluted 1:6,400 in PBS at 37oC for 30 min. After washing five times with PBS/Tween, the antigen-antibody-disc complex was incubated with 100 µl of goat anti-rabbit IgG conjugated with horseradish peroxidase, diluted 12,000 times in PBS, at 37oC for 30 min. Five washings with PBS/Tween were then carried out. The substrate solution (100 µl), consisting of 0.325% (w/v) orthophenylenediamine dihydrochloride (OPD; Sigma) and 0.085% v/v H2O2, prepared in 0.3 M Tris-citrate buffer, pH 6.0, was added and incubated at room temperature (28oC) for 15 min in the dark. The reaction was stopped with 2.5 M H2SO4 (25 µl), the discs were removed and the plates read in an ELISA reader (Bio-rad) at 492 nm.

Optimization procedure

The procedure was standardized according to previous studies on the best antigen concentration, blocking conditions, conjugate titration, and sera.

Antigen concentration. Samples (100 µl) of F1 antigen solution at concentrations ranging from 0.08 to 10 µg were added to the plasticized discs in flat-bottomed microplates and left to stand overnight at 25oC for 1 h, for protein (F1 antigen) immobilization.

Blocking conditions. The conditions used were as described by Araujo et al. (13).

Conjugate titration. Goat anti-rabbit IgG conjugated with horseradish peroxidase was diluted from 1:1,500 to 1:24,000 in PBS.

Serum titration. Positive sera were diluted from 1:400 to 1:51,200 in PBS and ELISA was carried out using the best conditions for blocking, conjugate dilution and antigen concentration.

Results and Discussion

Several polymers have been investigated as an alternative solid phase to be used in immunoassays. Lehtonen and Viljanen (16), studying the concentration of antigen in ELISA for the detection of chicken anti-bovine serum albumin, used three polymers as solid phase and two immobilization procedures: polystyrene and nylon (adsorption) and cyanogen bromide-activated paper (covalent link). There was a noticeable release of the adsorbed antigen during the assay from both polystyrene (30%) and nylon (60%). Desorption of antigen from activated paper during the assay was lower than with polystyrene or nylon. Bode et al. (17), studying the detection of antigen of four adenoviruses and anti-adenoviruses, reported the sensitivity of the membrane discs (nitrocellulose) to be 9-10-fold higher than in a conventional ELISA using polystyrene solid phase supports.

De Saeger and Van Peteghem (18) proposed a dipstick enzyme immunoassay for rapid antigen detection on a membrane precoated with rabbit anti-mouse immunoglobulins and monoclonal anti-T-2 toxin antibodies for the detection of Fusarium T-2 toxin in wheat.

In the present study, ELISA was based on the covalent link of F1 antigen on discs of filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between the concentration of F1 antigen on the proposed matrix and the results obtained by ELISA. A typical hyperbolic Michaelis-Menten curve (19) obtained due to the saturation of antigen-antibody complex revealed that the minimum amount of fixed antigen to produce maximum absorbance is equal to 1.25 µg protein. Figure 2 shows the relationship between goat anti-rabbit IgG conjugate dilution and ELISA performance. The 1:12,000 dilution can be used as the best conjugate concentration. The titration of immunized and non-immunized serum against F1 antigen, illustrated in Figure 3, shows that a 1:6,200 dilution would be recommended since the highest F factor value was estimated at this concentration (F @ 12). A remarkable difference in absorbance was observed between immunized and non-immunized sera, while values close to zero were detected for the control (PBS).

Figure 1 - Relationship between antigen immobilized (F1) on discs of filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde and ELISA results. Discs containing F1 antigen (100 µl) with protein concentrations ranging from 0.08 to 10 µg were incubated with 100 µl of immunized serum diluted 1:6,400 (circles), non-immunized serum (squares) and PBS (triangles). Goat anti-rabbit IgG conjugate (100 µl) diluted 12,000 times and substrate solution (100 µl), including OPD and H2O2, were used. The discs were removed and the absorbance of the supernatant at 492 nm was determined with an ELISA reader.

[View larger version of this image (10 K GIF file)]

Figure 2 - Titration of goat anti-rabbit IgG conjugated with horseradish peroxidase by ELISA using paper filter plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde as solid phase. The conjugate was diluted from 1:1,500 to 1:24,000 in PBS and ELISA was carried out using 1.25 µg antigen/disc and 100 µl of immunized serum diluted 1:6,400 (circles), non-immunized serum (squares) and PBS (triangles).

[View larger version of this image (6 K GIF file)]

Figure 3 - Titration of serum from rabbits immunized or not against F1 antigen by ELISA using filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde. Sera (100 µl) from immunized rabbit (circles), non-immunized rabbit (squares) and PBS (triangles) were diluted from 1:400 to 1:51,200 in PBS and ELISA was carried out according to the best conditions for antigen (1.25 µg/disc) and conjugate concentration (diluted 1:12,000). Insert, The ratio (factor F) between the absorbance values recorded for the immunized and non-immunized serum was calculated for each dilution.

[View larger version of this image (20 K GIF file)]

The antigen/plasticized discs used for this serum titration were impregnated by the colored products released during ELISA development (OPD oxidation by peroxidase). The color intensity was directly proportional to absorbance and remained unaltered for about two days. Thus, one can set up a dot-ELISA based on this antigen/plasticized discs.

A comparative study between this method and conventional ELISA based on antigen adsorption on polyvinyl chloride plates is shown in Figure 4. In this experiment, sera were collected from immunized rabbits (N = 8) and non-immunized rabbits (N = 9). Firstly, regarding the sera from immunized rabbits, the mean values (± SD) of 0.667 ± 0.264 and 0.536 ± 0.326 were calculated for the ELISA absorbance values using plasticized filter paper and conventional procedures, respectively. The independent t-test applied to both mean values at the 0.05 level showed no significant difference (t = 0.875 and P = 0.396). Also, a linear correlation was observed when plasticized filter paper values were plotted against those obtained by the conventional procedure (r = 0.986 and P = 0.00037). For the sera collected from non-immunized rabbits (N = 9) mean values of 0.127 ± 0.103 and 0.065 ± 0.045 were estimated for the plasticized filter paper and conventional ELISA procedures, respectively. The independent t-test between these values was not significant (t = 1.652 and P = 0.118). A linear correlation was also observed between the two procedures (r = 0.952 and P = 0.00007). In summary, ELISA performed on this basis is comparable to that performed by the conventional procedure.

The present results indicate that filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde can be an alternative support for immunoassays. It is easy to synthesize and the antigen is covalently linked, therefore avoiding false-negative results due to antigen leaching. The reagents are of low cost and easy acquisition; ELISA and dot-ELISA can be simultaneously performed either in the laboratory or in the field. Small amounts of antigen (1.25 µg) and conjugate (dilution 1:12,000) were employed in the present model (experimental plague). High sensitivity was also achieved (serum dilution up to 1:51,200 still revealed differences between immunized and non-immunized serum, with an F factor higher than 5).

Figure 4 - Comparison of the absorbance values obtained by conventional ELISA based on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and ELISA based on filter paper plasticized with polyvinyl alcohol-glutaraldehyde. Sera from immunized (N = 8) and non-immunized (N = 9) rabbits were analyzed for the presence of anti-F1 antigen IgG. The absorbance reported is the mean of two determinations. The arrows indicate the positions of the mean values.

[View larger version of this image (6 K GIF file)]


1. Butler T (1989). The Black Death past and present. 1. Plague in the 1980s. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 83: 458-460.        [ Links ]

2. Chanteau S, Ratsifasoamanana L, Rasoamanana B, Rahalison L, Randriambelosoa J, Roux J & Rabeson D (1998). Plague, a reemerging disease in Madagascar. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 4: 101-104.        [ Links ]

3. Vieira JBF, Almeida AMP & Almeida CR (1994). Epidemiologia e controle da peste no Brasil. Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, 27 (Suppl III): 51-58.        [ Links ]

4. Perry RD & Fetherston JD (1997). Yersinia pestis - etiologic agent of plague. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 10: 35-66.        [ Links ]

5. Almeida AM, Leal NC, de Carvalho FG, Dantas Sobrinho J & de Almeida CR (1995). Plague surveillance in Brazil: 1983-1992. Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, 37: 511-516.        [ Links ]

6. Almeida AM & Ferreira LC (1992). Evaluation of three serological tests for the detection of human plague in northeast Brazil. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 87: 87-92.        [ Links ]

7. Leroy F (1997). Etude séro(-)épidémiologique de la peste humaine à Madagascar. Annales de Biologie Clinique, 55: 332-336.        [ Links ]

8. Cao LK, Anderson GP, Ligler FS & Ezzell J (1995). Detection of Yersinia pestis fraction 1 antigen with a fiber optic biosensor. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 33: 336-341.        [ Links ]

9. Anderson GP, King KD, Cao LK, Jacoby M, Ligler FS & Ezzell J (1998). Quantifying serum antiplague antibody with a fiber-optic biosensor. Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology, 5: 609-612.        [ Links ]

10. Leal NC, Abath FG, Alves LC & de Almeida AM (1996). A simple PCR-based procedure for plague diagnosis. Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, 38: 371-373.        [ Links ]

11. Montenegro SML, De Almeida AMP, Carvalho AB & Carvalho Jr LB (1991). The use of Dacron plates for dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dot-ELISA). Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 86: 461-465.        [ Links ]

12. Montenegro SML, Almeida AMP & Carvalho Jr LB (1993). Standardization of the dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dot-ELISA) for experimental plague. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 88: 119-123.        [ Links ]

13. Araujo AM, Petribú ATS, Barbosa GHTS, Diniz JRP, Almeida AMP, Azevedo WM, Malagueño E & Carvalho Jr LB (1996). The use of polyvinyl alcohol glutaraldehyde as solid-phase in ELISA for plague. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 91: 195-198.        [ Links ]

14. Carvalho Jr LB, Araujo AM, Almeida AMP & Azevedo WM (1996). The use of polyvinyl alcohol glutaraldehyde antigen coated discs for laser induced fluorescence detection of plague. Sensors and Actuators, B 35-36: 1-4.        [ Links ]

15. Baker EE, Sommer H, Foster LE, Meyer E & Meyer KF (1952). Studies on immunization against plague. I. The isolation and characterization of the soluble antigen of Pasteurella pestis. Journal of Immunology, 68: 131-140.        [ Links ]

16. Lehtonen OP & Viljanen MKJ (1980). Antigen attachment in ELISA. Journal of Immunological Methods, 34: 61-70.        [ Links ]

17. Bode L, Beutin L & Köhler HJ (1984). Nitrocellulose-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (NC-ELISA) - a sensitive technique for the rapid visual detection of both viral antigens and antibodies. Journal of Virological Methods, 8: 111-121.        [ Links ]

18. De Saeger S & Van Peteghem C (1996). Dipstick enzyme immunoassay to detect Fusarium T-2 toxin in wheat. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 62: 1880-1884.        [ Links ]

19. Van-Heyningen V, Brock DJ & van-Heyningen S (1983). A simple method for ranking the affinities of monoclonal antibodies. Journal of Immunological Methods, 62: 147-153.        [ Links ]

Correspondence and Footnotes

Address for correspondence: L.B. Carvalho Jr., Laboratório de Imunopatologia Keizo Asami, UFPE, 50670-420 Recife, PE, Brasil. Fax: +55-81-271-8485. E-mail:

Publication supported by FAPESP. Received June 21, 1999. Accepted March 10, 2000.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License