Original Research

Real-time polymerase chain reaction optimised for hepatitis C virus detection in dried blood spots from HIV-exposed infants, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Anneta Naidoo, Raveen Parboosing, Pravi Moodley
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 5, No 1 | a269 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v5i1.269 | © 2016 Anneta Naidoo, Raveen Parboosing, Pravi Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2014 | Published: 18 March 2016

About the author(s)

Anneta Naidoo, Department of Virology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Raveen Parboosing, Department of Virology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Pravi Moodley, Department of Virology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: There is a paucity of data on the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. A major obstacle in resource-limited settings for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is the necessity for specimen transportation and storage at low temperatures. There are numerous recent studies of using real-time HCV PCR for diagnosis and screening of plasma and serum, but few have looked at using dried blood spot (DBS) specimens.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to optimise a real-time HCV PCR method to detect HCV RNA from infant DBS specimens for use as a tool for HCV surveillance in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Method: The LightCycler® 2.0 instrument was used for the HCV PCR using the LightCycler® RNA Master SYBR Green I kit. Template volume, primer concentration and primer annealing temperatures were optimised and the method was used on 179 DBS specimens from HIV-exposed infants in KwaZulu-Natal.

Results: Primer concentrations adjusted to 0.25 µM and a template volume of 10 µL improved the PCR amplification. Primer annealing temperatures lowered from 65 °C to 58 °C resulted in higher quantities of amplified PCR product. The limit of detection of the optimised HCV PCR assay was between 1200 IU/mL and 3580 IU/mL of HCV RNA. HCV was not detected in any of the 179 DBS specimens.

Conclusion: The optimised real-time HCV PCR on infant DBS specimens performed well, but HCV was not found in this surveillance study. HIV infection may have little impact on the vertical transmission of HCV in this region.


Keywords

pediatric HCV; HIV; KZN

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