Journal of medical virology

Comparison of a LightCycler-based real-time PCR for quantitation of Epstein-Barr viral load in different clinical specimens with semiquantitative PCR.

PMID 16555269


Measurement of viral load is important in predicting and monitoring of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated diseases especially in immunocompromised patients. The objectives of this study were the development of a LightCycler-based real-time PCR assay using primers and probes which recognize the virus capsid antigen p23-encoding region and its comparison to the semiquantitative PCR. The LightCycler protocol shows a high degree of specificity and inter- and intra-assay reproducibility. Concerning sensitivity, a good correlation between both methods was demonstrated for standard plasmid DNA, reference DNA isolated from the EBV-genome containing Namalwa cell line, and DNA extracted from plasma/cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The detection limit was determined with 1 copy/microl eluate for the standard plasmid DNA and with 500 copies/ml plasma or CSF. For DNA derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), a decrease of sensitivity by factor 10-100 was found when larger amounts of background DNA (500 and 100 ng) were used presuming an inhibitory effect of cellular DNA. This was supported by running dilutions of the plasmid standard carried out with EBV-negative Ramos cell DNA. Thus, the cut-off level was estimated with 100-500 copies/10(5) PBMCs, when 50 or 10 ng total DNA were tested. The results indicate that the real-time PCR described here is a first line tool for the determination of viral load in plasma and CSF. Semiquantitative nested PCR is used for screening of PBMCs viral load. Positive specimens containing more than 500 copies/10(5) cells are measured for exact values by real-time PCR. To circumvent inhibitory effects of cellular DNA, measurements should be carried out generally with 50-10 ng DNA.

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Namalwa, 87060801