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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 24 (2013), Issue 3, Pages e69-e74
Original Article

Peripheral Blood Leukocytes and Serum Nested Polymerase Chain Reaction Are Complementary Methods for Monitoring Active Cytomegalovirus Infection in Transplant Patients

PD Andrade, MT Fioravanti, EBV Anjos, C De Oliveira, DM Albuquerque, and SCB Costa

Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Human cytomegalovirus is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients. Qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has proven to be a sensitive and effective technique in defining active cytomegalovirus infection, in addition to having low cost and being a useful test for situations in which there is no need for quantification. Real-time PCR has the advantage of quantification; however, the high cost of this methodology makes it impractical for routine use.

OBJECTIVE: To apply a nested PCR assay to serum (sPCR) and to evaluate its efficiency to diagnose active cytomegalovirus infection compared with PCR of peripheral blood leukocytes (L-PCR).

METHODS: Samples of 37 patients were prospectively evaluated. An internal control was created and applied to sPCR to exclude false-negative results.

RESULTS: In total, 21 patients (57%) developed active cytomegalovirus infection. After analyzing the two methods for the diagnosis of active infection, higher sensitivity and negative predictive value of the L-PCR versus sPCR (100% versus 62%), and higher specificity and positive predictive value of sPCR versus L-PCR (81% versus 50% and 72%, respectively) were observed. Discordant results were observed in 11 patients who were L-PCR-positive but sPCR-negative for active cytomegalovirus infection, five of whom developed clinical symptoms of cytomegalovirus. Clinical symptoms were observed in 14 patients, 12 of whom were diagnosed with active infection by nested L-PCR (P=0.007) and seven by nested sPCR (P=0.02). Higher specificity and a positive predictive value for sPCR were observed.

CONCLUSION: Nested L-PCR and sPCR were considered to be complementary methods for the diagnosis and management of symptomatic cytomegalovirus infection.