Immunomics-guided discovery of serum and urine antibodies for diagnosing urogenital schistosomiasis: a biomarker identification study

01 Nov 2021


Sensitive diagnostics are needed for effective management and surveillance of schistosomiasis so that current transmission interruption goals set by WHO can be achieved. We aimed to screen the Schistosoma haematobium secretome to find antibody biomarkers of schistosome infection, validate their diagnostic performance in samples from endemic populations, and evaluate their utility as point of care immunochromatographic tests (POC-ICTs) to diagnose urogenital schistosomiasis in the field.


We did a biomarker identification study, in which we constructed a proteome array containing 992 validated and predicted proteins from S haematobium and screened it with serum and urine antibodies from endemic populations in Gabon, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Arrayed antigens that were IgG-reactive and a select group of antigens from the worm extracellular vesicle proteome, predicted to be diagnostically informative, were then evaluated by ELISA using the same samples used to probe arrays, and samples from individuals residing in a low-endemicity setting (ie, Pemba and Unguja islands, Zanzibar, Tanzania). The two most sensitive and specific antigens were incorporated into POC-ICTs to assess their ability to diagnose S haematobium infection from serum in a field-deployable format.


From array probing, in individuals who were infected, 208 antigens were the targets of significantly elevated IgG responses in serum and 45 antigens were the targets of significantly elevated IgG responses in urine. Of the five proteins that were validated by ELISA, Sh-TSP-2 (area under the curve [AUC]serum=0·98 [95% CI 0·95–1·00]; AUCurine=0·96 [0·93–0·99]), and MS3_01370 (AUCserum=0·93 [0·89–0·97]; AUCurine=0·81 [0·72–0·89]) displayed the highest overall diagnostic performance in each biofluid and exceeded that of S haematobium-soluble egg antigen in urine (AUC=0·79 [0·69–0·90]). When incorporated into separate POC-ICTs, Sh-TSP-2 showed absolute specificity and a sensitivity of 75% and MS3_01370 showed absolute specificity and a sensitivity of 89%.


We identified numerous biomarkers of urogenital schistosomiasis that could form the basis of novel antibody diagnostics for this disease. Two of these antigens, Sh-TSP-2 and MS3_01370, could be used as sensitive, specific, and field-deployable diagnostics to support schistosomiasis control and elimination initiatives, with particular focus on post-elimination surveillance.


Australian Trade and Investment Commission and Merck Global Health Institute.