Antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (AC-ELISA) which use enzyme-labelled antigen were developed for detection of varicella-zoster virus-(VZV) specific IgM, IgA and IgG antibody in patients with varicella or herpes zoster and in sera from healthy individuals. All 18 patients with varicella developed a VZV-IgM and a VZV-IgG response, 17 also a VZV-IgA response. In contrast, all 19 patients with herpes zoster were shown to be positive for VZV-IgA whereas only 13 of these reacted positively for VZV-IgM. A VZV-IgM response was detected in only two sera from 100 healthy individuals and an IgA response in only one. The presence of virus-specific IgA and IgG in the cerebrospinal fluid as determined by AC-ELISA was a useful indicator of VZV infection of the central nervous system.
By AC-ELISA, VZV-IgG was detected predominantly in sera from patients with acute or recent VZV infection. Only 14 sera from 100 healthy individuals were positive for VZV-IgG by AC-ELISA, whereas all were positive by an indirect ELISA. These results indicate that AC-ELISA's may be useful assays for determination for acute or recurrent VZV infection, but are not suitable for determination of past infection with this virus.