Antibodies against viral nucleo-, phospho-, and X protein contribute to serological diagnosis of fatal Borna disease virus 1 infections

Borna disease virus 1 (BoDV-1) causes rare but often fatal encephalitis in humans. Late diagnosis prohibits an experimental therapeutic approach. Here, we report a recent case of fatal BoDV-1 infection diagnosed on day 12 after hospitalization by detection of BoDV-1 RNA in the cerebrospinal fluid. In a retrospective analysis, we detect BoDV-1 RNA 1 day after hospital admission when the cell count in the cerebrospinal fluid is still normal. We develop a new ELISA using recombinant BoDV-1 nucleoprotein, phosphoprotein, and accessory protein X to detect seroconversion on day 12. Antibody responses are also shown in seven previously confirmed cases. The individual BoDV-1 antibody profiles show variability, but the usage of three different BoDV-1 antigens results in a more sensitive diagnostic tool. Our findings demonstrate that early detection of BoDV-1 RNA in cerebrospinal fluid and the presence of antibodies against at least two different viral antigens contribute to BoDV-1 diagnosis. Physicians in endemic regions should consider BoDV-1 infection in cases of unclear encephalopathy and initiate appropriate diagnostics at an early stage.



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