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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 May;37(5):1260-4.

Highly sensitive methods for quantitation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA from plasma, cells, and tissues.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.


Precise and sensitive quantitation of viral RNA in specimens from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals has become an indispensable tool for the monitoring of the efficacy of highly active antiretroviral combination therapy. The present report describes reproducible and efficient protocols with enhanced sensitivity for quantitation of HIV-1 RNA from plasma, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and tissues with Qiagen silica columns for RNA purification combined with the Roche Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor test for quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). Extraction of RNA from 0.5 ml of plasma resulted in the detection of fewer than 20 HIV RNA copies/ml of plasma, equivalent to the centrifugation-based boosted RT-PCR assay. Silica extraction of cellular RNA resulted in the detection of fewer than 3 HIV-1 RNA copies/microg of total RNA. These techniques facilitate direct comparisons of viral loads between liquid and cellular specimens. Application of these sensitive methods may improve the assessment of the response to new antiretroviral regimens.

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