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J Clin Virol. 2004 Apr;29(4):282-9.

Quantitative detection of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) proviral DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells by SYBR green real-time PCR technique.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Microbiology Section, University of Bologna, St. Orsola Hospital, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.



The persistence of proviral human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA reservoir represents one of the major drawbacks to the total eradication of HIV-1. The quantitative determination of proviral HIV-1 DNA load offers significant therapeutic information, especially when the HIV-1 RNA levels drop below the detectable limits during the highly active retroviral therapy (HAART) treatment. Moreover, the detection of HIV-1 proviral DNA is an important diagnostic marker in the evaluation of HIV-1 infection of newborns of HIV-1 seropositive women.


We evaluated a real-time PCR based on LightCycler technology revealed through SYBR green fluorochrome (SYBR green real-time PCR) to quantify the HIV-1 proviral DNA load in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of HIV-1 seropositive patients.


Firstly, we assessed the SYBR green real-time quantitative PCR for HIV-1 proviral DNA load detection determining the specificity and sensitivity of the assay using the LightCycler system. Secondly, we tested the performance of our SYBR green real-time PCR on 50 HIV-1 seropositive patients under HAART and 20 blood donors.


The results of this study showed that our SYBR green real-time PCR is able to detect five copies of the HIV-1 genome. Moreover, our method revealed HIV-1 proviral DNA in all the 50 HIV-1 seropositive patients ( 627 +/- 1068 HIV-1 proviral DNA copies per 10(6) PBMC, with a range of 30-6300 copies), whereas no positive signal was observed in any PBMC blood donors. Our SYBR green real-time PCR represents a sensitive and useful approach that could be applied both in HIV-1 proviral DNA reservoir determination and in HAART monitoring, particularly when the HIV-1 plasmatic RNA is undetectable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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