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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Nov;35(11):2795-801.

Quantification of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA from dried plasma spots collected on filter paper.

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  • 1Ottawa General Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


To assess dried plasma spots (DPSs) as a source of material for virus quantification, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA levels were quantified in matched DPS and liquid plasma samples from 73 infected patients, including 5 neonates and 4 adult patients with acute HIV-1 infection. Quantifications were performed by commercially available assays (NASBA [nucleic acid sequence-based amplification] or Amplicor, or both). There was a strong correlation between HIV-1 RNA levels in plasma and DPSs. More importantly, there was no decline in HIV-1 RNA levels in DPSs stored for as long as 2 weeks at 20 degrees C. Similarly, storage of DPSs for 3 days at 37 degrees C resulted in no decrease in viral RNA levels. For patients with primary infection, the DPS method allowed for the measurement of RNA levels in plasma during the initial spike in the level of viremia and in the subsequent period of suppressed viral replication. DPS quantification was equally informative in the neonatal setting, with all five newborns showing HIV-1 RNA loads of greater than 4.991 log10 copies/ml. We conclude that the viral RNA levels in DPSs are equivalent to those measured in fresh-frozen plasma. The ease and economy of DPS sampling, the minute volumes required, and the unexpected stability of dried RNA suggest that the use of DPSs will be particularly valuable for small-volume neonatal samples and large, population-based studies in which cold storage and transportation present special problems, as is often the case in developing countries. The ability to measure viral changes during primary infection suggests that the method will be useful for assessing vaccine efficacy in large field trials.

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