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J Med Virol. 2013 Feb;85(2):315-9. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23471. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Improving diagnosis of primary cytomegalovirus infection in pregnant women using immunoblots.

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Virology Research Laboratory, Virology Division, SEALS Microbiology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW, Australia.


Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infectious cause of mental disability in newborns of developed countries. Transmission of CMV from mother to baby is more frequent in maternal primary infection, although CMV reactivation causes more congenital infections overall. Current diagnostic tests for distinguishing primary and reactivation CMV have problems with interpretation and immunoblots may assist with diagnosis. Sera from 60 pregnant women were analyzed using conventional serology in parallel with a commercial immunoblot assay (using Recomblot, Mikrogen Diagnostik). Comparison of detection of CMV IgG, IgM, IgG avidity in maternal primary infection showed the immunoblot relative to conventional serology had sensitivity and specificity of 100% for IgG identification. The detection of IgM on immunoblot showed sensitivity of 75%, specificity of 62.5%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 81.8% and negative predictive value (NPV) of 52.6%. The immunoblot IgG avidity assay had sensitivity of 94.1%, with a PPV of 100% when identifying low avidity serum samples, and sensitivity of 100% with a PPV of 97.1% for high avidity serum samples. Overall agreement between conventional serology (IgM, IgG avidity) and immunoblot (IgM, IgG avidity) for detection of primary CMV infection was 65%. Although the immunoblot is effective in detecting IgG and determining IgG avidity, it showed no significant benefits in performance or utility as a first line diagnostic technique for IgM or primary CMV infection in pregnant women.

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