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J Hepatol. 1997 May;26(5):1001-9.

Evaluation and comparison of different hepatitis C virus genotyping and serotyping assays.

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Medizinische Klinik II, Klinikum der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universit├Ąt, Frankfurt a.M., Germany.



Evidence that the geno/subtype of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is predictive of the response to interferon-alpha therapy suggests that typing methods are clinically useful. In the present study, HCV isolates obtained from 74 patients with chronic hepatitis C were used to evaluate three genotyping and two serotyping assays.


The reverse hybridization assay and the DNA immunoassay are based on immobilized type-specific probes for the 5'-noncoding and the core region, respectively. A third genotyping assay utilized type-specific primers for amplification of the core region. Serotyping assays detect type-specific antibodies of the nonstructural-4 region (enzyme immunoassay) or of the core and nonstructural-4 region (recombinant immunoblot assay). Gold standard geno/subtyping of HCV isolates was performed by sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the nonstructural-5B region.


All genotyping systems amplified the respective target region of the HCV genome with high sensitivity. The reverse hybridization assay and the DNA immunoassay correctly identified HCV-1, -2, and -3. The DNA immunoassay misinterpreted all HCV-4 isolates as HCV-4 and -5 coinfection. In the type-specific amplification assay, coinfections of subtypes HCV-1a and HCV-3a with HCV-1b could not be excluded. The reverse hybridization assay misinterpreted 1/14 HCV-1a isolates as HCV-1h, and vice versa 3/36 HCV-1b isolates as HCV-1a. Furthermore, differentiation between HCV-2a and -2c was not possible using this assay. The DNA immunoassay correctly identified all HCV subtypes. The serotyping assays, recombinant immunoblot assay and enzyme immunoassay identified HCV-1, -2, and -3 in 93% and 89% of cases, respectively. HCV-4, however, could only be recognized by the enzyme immunoassay.


The reverse hybridization assay and the DNA immunoassay specifically identified HCV genotypes 1, 2, and 3, while crossreactivity occurred in the primer-specific amplification assay. The DNA immunoassay achieved the best performance in HCV subtyping. Both serotyping systems correctly identified HCV-1, -2, and -3 in about 90% of cases, but lack the possibility of subtyping.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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