Eighty-five subjects were tested for the presence of circulating candidal antigen (CAg) and anti-candidal antibody (CAb) using both an enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) and counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE). The 72 studied controls included laboratory volunteers; hospitalized patients without evidence of infection; febrile hospitalized patients without evidence of candidiasis; and patients with superficial candidiasis and candiduria. The control subjects were compared with 13 patients with proven disseminated candidal infection (disease prevalence = 15%). The ELISA CAb test was of greater individual sensitivity (92%) in separating patients with systemic candidiasis from all controls combined than the ELISA CAg, CIE CAg, or CIE CAb test (61%, 15%, 69%, respectively). The CIE CAg test, though specific (100%), was insensitive. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were generally enhanced by employing combinations of tests. Sera from patients with disseminated candidiasis were much more likely to yield a positive result by two or more serologic tests than were control sera (p = less than 0.0004). The sensitivity of combinations ranged from 15% to 92%. The specificity of combinations ranged from 21% to 100%. The predictive value positive of combinations test ranged from 40% to 100%. Predictive value negative of combinations ranged from 69% to 98%. Patients with a variety of superficial and deep candidal infections apparently have detectable circulating CAb and/or CAg. The ELISA CAb test was superior to the other tests in identifying patients with disseminated candidiasis. Combinations of serologic tests may be superior to individual tests in the diagnosis or exclusion of serious disease due to Candida albicans.
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