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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 Nov;37(11):3672-5.

Detection of human herpesvirus 6 by reverse transcription-PCR.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The role of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) in disease beyond primary infection remains unclear. We have developed and validated a new reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assay for HHV-6 that can determine the presence of HHV-6 in clinical specimens and differentiate between latent and replicating virus. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 109 children were evaluated for HHV-6 by RT-PCR, DNA PCR, and viral culture. Of these samples, 106 were suitable for analysis. A total of 20 samples were positive for HHV-6 by culture and DNA PCR, of which 19 were positive by RT-PCR (sensitivity, 95%). All 28 samples from children that were negative by viral culture, but positive by DNA PCR, were negative for viral transcripts by our RT-PCR assay. One positive RT-PCR result was observed in 56 samples that were negative by tissue culture and DNA PCR. This indicates a low rate of false-positive results (1.2%) and a specificity of 98.8%. This RT-PCR assay can reliably differentiate between latent and actively replicating HHV-6 and should allow insight into the pathogenesis of this ubiquitous virus.

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