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J Virol Methods. 2007 Dec;146(1-2):226-35. Epub 2007 Sep 6.

Universal detection of hepatitis E virus by two real-time PCR assays: TaqMan and Primer-Probe Energy Transfer.

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Joint R&D Division, Department of Virology, The National Veterinary Institute & Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, S-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major cause of food- and waterborne diseases in countries with poor sanitation. Furthermore, travellers to such countries are also at risk of contracting the virus. Noteworthily, during the last decade an increasing number of non-travel-related cases were recorded even in countries with high sanitary standards. An alternative, direct route of infection, from animals to humans (zoonotic transmission) is suspected to be the cause of recent cases of hepatitis E. In order to provide rapid and sensitive methods for detecting the virus in various hosts, two real-time PCR methods were developed and compared: a TaqMan and Primer-Probe Energy Transfer (PriProET) assay. These highly sensitive novel methods provide valuable diagnostic tools to investigate zoonotic transmission, to detect the virus in the food chain and in research related to the potential of hepatitis E virus to cross the species barrier. The results show that the two novel PCR assays are robust, highly sensitive and specific for broad range detection of the four genotypes of HEV. Compared to PriProET, the TaqMan assay appears to perform slightly better, with higher fluorescence values for positive samples. However, the PriProET has the benefit of better tolerating the point mutations in the target nucleic acids. Thus, it provides a more powerful tool to detect new virus variants. These new molecular diagnostic assays are practical tools that can be employed in the area of public health, for disease diagnosis and for tracking outbreaks. In basic research the methods provide new tools to study HEV biology, including virus-host interactions and transmission between various host species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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