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J Clin Virol. 2009 Sep;46(1):20-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2009.05.016. Epub 2009 Jun 21.

Sensitive, qualitative detection of human herpesvirus-6 and simultaneous differentiation of variants A and B.

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Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232, United States.



The current limitations of laboratory testing for the detection of human herpesvirus virus 6 (HHV-6) in clinical specimens with low HHV-6 viral loads make this area a priority for further research and development.


To develop and validate a sensitive qualitative assay for simultaneous HHV-6 detection and variant differentiation.


We developed a diagnostic procedure, which combines a magnetic bead-based nucleic acid extraction, PCR amplification, and colorimetric microtiter plate identification (MAG-PCR-EIA), for the sensitive detection of HHV-6 and the simultaneous differentiation of HHV-6A and HHV-6B.


Analytic sensitivities of the MAG-PCR-EIA assay were 10 copies per reaction for both HHV-6A and HHV-6B variants, which is equivalent to 20 copies/ml when 1ml of clinical specimen was processed. A proficiency panel containing 11 blinded specimens covering HHV-6A viral loads from 0 to 100,000 copies was tested, and the MAG-PCR-EIA was able to detect the lowest concentration at one copy in 200microl. A panel of 27 urine specimens, which were collected from patients with and without chronic fatigue syndrome, was tested by the MAG-PCR-EIA. HHV-6 was detected in two (HHV-6A) patients who have chromosomally integrated HHV-6A and in one (HHV-6B) patient who was a healthy control and diagnosed as cervical cancer later on. The HHV-6 results did not correlate with results previously determined by HHV-6 antigenemia in urine.


With large specimen volumes processed and an additional signal amplification incorporated, the MAG-PCR-EIA provides a sensitive and qualitative system for HHV-6 detection and simultaneous variant differentiation. Clinical relevance of the assay awaits further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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