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J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Aug;43(8):3877-83.

Simultaneous detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen and anti-HCV antibodies improves the early detection of HCV infection.

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  • 1National Reference Center for Hepatitis B and C in Transfusion, Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine, 6 rue Alexandre-Cabanel, 75015 Paris, France.


To evaluate whether a new enzyme immunoassay developed for the simultaneous detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen (Ag) and anti-HCV antibodies (anti-HCV Ab) (Monolisa HCV Ag/Ab ULTRA; Bio-Rad) could improve the early detection of HCV infection, we compared its sensitivity to that of anti-HCV, HCV core Ag, and HCV RNA assays. The populations studied included 12 blood donor samples positive for HCV RNA and HCV core Ag but negative for anti-HCV antibodies and 23 hemodialysis patients who developed anti-HCV Ab (seroconversion) during the follow-up. From these 23 individuals, 83 samples sequentially collected prior to seroconversion and 108 samples collected after seroconversion were tested. Six of 12 blood donations were positive by the HCV Ag/Ab assay. In the hemodialysis cohort, the 24 HCV RNA-negative samples were negative by the HCV Ag/Ab assay and 23 of the 59 HCV RNA-positive samples (39%) were positive. The HCV Ag/Ab assay detected HCV infection on average 21.6 days before the most sensitive antibody assay. The HCV Ag/Ab assay did not detect HCV infection as early as the HCV RNA assay (mean delay, 30.3 days) or HCV Ag assay (mean delays, 27.9, and 16.3 days by the HCV core Ag quantification assay and the HCV Ag blood screening assay, respectively). This new assay provides a notable improvement for the early detection of HCV infection during the so-called window period compared with anti-HCV Ab assays and could be a useful alternative to HCV RNA detection or HCV core Ag assays for diagnosis or blood screening when nucleic acid technologies or HCV core Ag detection are not implemented.

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