Background: Quantitation of serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA has proven useful in assisting with patient management and treatment and several commercially available assays have been developed to quantify serum HBV-DNA levels.
Methods: The performance of the cross-linking assay and the branched-DNA signal amplification (bDNA) assay for the quantitative measurement of HBV-DNA was studied in 99 hepatitis B surface antigen-positive and viraemic patients.
Results: Of these samples, 82 (83%) were positive for HBV-DNA by both assays and four (4%) were below the cut-off for both assays. Of the remaining 13 samples, 10 contained measurable levels of HBV-DNA by the cross-linking assay alone and three other samples contained measurable levels of HBV-DNA by the bDNA assay alone. The sensitivity gain of the cross-linking assay relative to bDNA assay in this study population was 10/92 (11%). In addition, a linear regression analysis showed that the HBV-DNA levels obtained from both assays was significantly correlated (gamma=0.974, P< 0.0001).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the recently developed cross-linking assay is more sensitive than the bDNA assay for the quantitative determination of HBV-DNA.