Torque teno viruses (TTVs) circulate widely among humans, causing persistent viraemia in healthy individuals. Numerous TTV isolates with high genetic variability have been identified and segregated into 29 species of five major phylogenetic groups. To date, the diversity of TTV sequences, challenges in protein expression and the subsequent lack of serological assays have hampered TTV seroprevalence studies. Moreover, the antigenic relationships of different TTVs and their specific seroprevalences in humans remain unknown. For five TTV strains - belonging to different species of four genogroups - we developed, using recombinant glutathione S-transferase (GST)-fused TTV ORF2 proteins, glutathione-GST capture enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) detecting antibodies towards conformational epitopes. We then analysed serum samples from 178 healthy adults and 108 children; IgG reactivities were observed either towards a single strain or towards multiple strains, which pointed to antigenic distinction of TTV species. The overall seroprevalence for the five TTVs peaked at 43% (18 of 42) in children 2-4 years of age, subsequently declined, and again reached 42% (74 of 178) among adults. TTV6 species-specific IgG predominated in children, whereas that for TTV13 predominated in adults. During a 3 year follow-up of the same children, both species-specific seroconversions and seroreversions occurred. This is the first EIA-based study of different TTVs, providing a new approach for seroepidemiology and diagnosis of TTV infections. Our data suggest that different TTVs in humans may differ in antiviral antibody profiles, infection patterns and epidemiology.
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