Discrepancy between batches and impact on the sensitivity of point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen tests for Schistosoma mansoni infection
The Kato-Katz (KK) technique is the mainstay mapping tool for the diagnosis of Schistosoma mansoni infection, despite showing poor sensitivity in cases of low-intensity infections. As an alternative, a rapid point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen diagnostic test (POC-CCA) has been commercially developed that involves a simple urine assay to detect S. mansoni, rather than a stool-based parasitological examination. Although POC-CCA has proven to be a more sensitive test than KK, it is not yet clear how to interpret discordant results between the two tests, particularly for situations in which the KK result is positive and the POC-CCA result is negative. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the degree of diagnostic variability between different POC-CCA batches with respect to results obtained with KK. For this purpose, we collected urine and stool samples of school-aged children from areas of low and moderate endemicity in Brazil, and compared different POC-CCA batches results with those of KK-positive individuals. We found a statistically significant difference between the results obtained from various POC-CCA batches using the same urine samples, regardless of the degree of endemicity and the intensity of infection in positive KK samples. In addition, there was poor agreement between the KK and POC-CCA results in some batches of the rapid test, resulting in false negatives. These findings raise concerns around quality control checks of POC-CCA, especially in light of the high cost and increasing reliance on this new diagnostic method as control programs move towards a goal of elimination.