Viruses 2020 09 10;12(9). Epub 2020 Sep 10.
VisMederi Research s.r.l., 53100 Siena, Italy.
The recent outbreak of a novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its rapid spread across the continents has generated an urgent need for assays to detect the neutralising activity of human sera or human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and to evaluate the serological immunity in humans. Since the accessibility of live virus microneutralisation (MN) assays with SARS-CoV-2 is limited and requires enhanced bio-containment, the approach based on "pseudotyping" can be considered a useful complement to other serological assays. After fully characterising lentiviral pseudotypes bearing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we employed them in pseudotype-based neutralisation assays in order to profile the neutralising activity of human serum samples from an Italian sero-epidemiological study. The results obtained with pseudotype-based neutralisation assays mirrored those obtained when the same panel of sera was tested against the wild type virus, showing an evident convergence of the pseudotype-based neutralisation and MN results. The overall results lead to the conclusion that the pseudotype-based neutralisation assay is a valid alternative to using the wild-type strain, and although this system needs to be optimised and standardised, it can not only complement the classical serological methods, but also allows serological assessments to be made when other methods cannot be employed, especially in a human pandemic context.