Optimization, assessment, and proposed use of a direct nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction protocol for the detection of hepatitis C virus

J Hum Virol. 1997 Nov-Dec;1(1):58-65.


Objectives: To compare the performance of reverse transcription followed by the polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), without RNA purification, with the performance of classic protocols.

Study design/methods: Direct and classic techniques were used to test three groups of samples: six hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroconversion panels (n = 90), a HCV RNA reference panel (n = 26), and serial dilutions of four HCV-positive sera (n = 24). These methods were then applied sequentially through a clinical diagnostic algorithm to test 268 samples from high-risk patients.

Results: For the three groups of samples, we found a 94% concordance between direct and purified RT-PCR methods. For the detection of HCV RNA in clinical samples, sensitivity was maximized and cost minimized using both protocols according to the proposed algorithm.

Conclusions: The direct PCR method is reliable, sensitive, and can result in time and cost savings. The suggested testing algorithm can enhance sensitivity and time savings for populations with a high prevalence of infection.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity