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J Clin Microbiol. 1992 Sep;30(9):2359-65.

Detection of human cytomegalovirus in plasma of AIDS patients during acute visceral disease by DNA amplification.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


By using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification procedure, 19 (83%) of 23 plasma specimens obtained from individuals with AIDS and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) visceral disease were found to be positive for plasma viremia as detected by PCR (PV-PCR), whereas 78% of cultures of peripheral blood leukocytes from the same samples were found to be positive. All 11 specimens prospectively obtained from individuals with acute HCMV disease were positive by PV-PCR. Plasma specimens from patients who received ganciclovir therapy rapidly became both culture and PV-PCR negative, and there was an excellent correlation between the two procedures. DNA detected by PV-PCR was unaffected by filtering plasma through a 0.2-microns-pore-size filter, although a conserved cellular gene, HLA-DQ alpha, was undetectable by PCR following filtration. HCMV DNA in plasma could be quantitated by PV-PCR by using endpoint serial dilutions, with detectable virus being present in 10(1) to 10(-2) microliters of plasma. A low titer of infectious virus could be detected in 2 of 11 plasma samples. The detection of HCMV DNA in plasma by PV-PCR promises to be a useful procedure for monitoring patients with AIDS suspected of having impending, acute, or recurrent HCMV visceral disease and suggests an additional route by which virus may disseminate in the immunocompromised host.

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