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Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 Oct 15;8(10):18758-64. eCollection 2015.

Development and evaluation of the quantitative real-time PCR assay in detection and typing of herpes simplex virus in swab specimens from patients with genital herpes.

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Department of Dermatology, 306 Hospital of PLA Beijing 100101, P. R. China.
Department of Pathology, 306 Hospital of PLA Beijing 100101, P. R. China.


Genital herpes (GH), which is caused mainly by herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2 and HSV-1, remains a worldwide problem. Laboratory confirmation of GH is important, particularly as there are other conditions which present similarly to GH, while atypical presentations of GH also occur. Currently, virus culture is the classical method for diagnosis of GH, but it is time consuming and with low sensitivity. A major advance for diagnosis of GH is to use Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In this study, to evaluate the significance of the real-time PCR method in diagnosis and typing of genital HSV, the primers and probes targeted at HSV-1 DNA polymerase gene and HSV-2 glycoprotein D gene fraction were designed and applied to amplify DNA from HSV-1 or HSV-2 by employing the real-time PCR technique. Then the PCR reaction system was optimized and evaluated. HSV in swab specimens from patients with genital herpes was detected by real-time PCR. The real-time PCR assay showed good specificity for detection and typing of HSV, with good linear range (5×10(2)~5×10(8) copies/ml, r=0.997), a sensitivity of 5×10(2) copies/ml, and good reproducibility (intra-assay coefficients of variation 2.29% and inter-assay coefficients of variation 4.76%). 186 swab specimens were tested for HSV by real-time PCR, and the positive rate was 23.7% (44/186). Among the 44 positive specimens, 8 (18.2%) were positive for HSV-1 with a viral load of 8.5546×10(6) copies/ml and 36 (81.2%) were positive for HSV-2 with a viral load of 1.9861×10(6) copies/ml. It is concluded that the real-time PCR is a specific, sensitive and rapid method for the detection and typing of HSV, which can be widely used in clinical diagnosis of GH.


Genital herpes; detection; herpes simplex virus; real-time polymerase chain reaction; typing


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