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Clin Chem. 1997 Oct;43(10):1843-9.

Quantitative polymerase chain reaction for human herpesvirus diagnosis and measurement of Epstein-Barr virus burden in posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9072, USA.


Human herpesviruses can cause acute diseases such as chicken pox or mononucleosis, but also may reactivate during immunosuppression and result in severe or life-threatening illnesses such as shingles or lymphoproliferative disorders. We report the development and validation of a quantitative PCR method to measure viral burden for all eight human herpesviruses (HSV1, HSV2, VZV, EBV, CMV, HHV6, HHV7, and KSHV) in patients' samples. The method uses an internal standard that is coamplified with the viral target, allowing quantification of viral genomes in absolute terms (e.g., viral targets/mL of blood) and ruling out false-negative results. We demonstrate that transplant patients with lymphoproliferative disorder carry an EBV viral burden 3 logs higher than nontransplant patients. EBV titers in transplant patients without a lymphoproliferative disorder are between these values. This quantitative PCR method may aid in differentiating clinically significant vs latent viral burden in immunosuppressed patients.

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