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J Virol Methods. 2011 Oct;177(1):118-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2011.06.018. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Analytical validation of a lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus real-time RT-PCR assay.

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Swiss National Reference Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, University of Geneva Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.


Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a rare cause of central nervous system disease in humans. Screening by real-time RT-PCR assay is of interest in the case of aseptic meningitis of unknown etiology. A specific LCMV real-time RT-PCR assay, based on the detection of genomic sequences of the viral nucleoprotein (NP), was developed to assess the presence of LCMV in cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) sent for viral screening to a Swiss university hospital laboratory. A 10-fold dilution series assay using a plasmid containing the cDNA of the viral NP of the LCMV isolate Armstrong (Arm) 53b demonstrated the high sensitivity of the assay with a lowest detection limit of ≤50 copies per reaction. High sensitivity was confirmed by dilution series assays in a pool of human CSF using four different LCMV isolates (Arm53b, WE54, Traub and E350) with observed detection limits of ≤10PFU/ml (Arm53b and WE54) and 1PFU/ml (Traub and E350). Analysis of 130 CSF showed no cases of acute infection. The absence of positive cases was confirmed by a published PCR assay detecting all Old World arenaviruses. This study validates a specific and sensitive real-time RT-PCR assay for the diagnosis of LCMV infections. Results showed that LCMV infections are extremely rare in hospitalized patients western in Switzerland.

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