Assay for hepatitis C virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells enhances sensitivity of diagnosis and monitoring of HCV-associated hepatitis

Clin Chim Acta. 1999 May;283(1-2):1-14. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(99)00007-8.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major etiological factor in chronic hepatitis affecting up to 24% of blood donors in Egypt. Since fluctuating levels of HCV RNA loads, including undetectable values, have been frequently observed in sera of chronic hepatitis patients, this study was designed to assess the sensitivity of PCR amplification for the plus- and minus-RNA strands in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) compared to single serum PCR assay. Since the latter test detects viremia in only 79.5% of seropositive cases, the highest sensitivity for HCV diagnosis was achieved (93.20% when applying the combined triple test including PCR amplification of plus-strand in serum, together with plus-strand in PBMC and minus-strand in PBMC. The results of this study indicate that the triple test provides significant information on extrahepatic replication of HCV in a sizable sample of seropositive subjects (429 cases) and improves the assessment of HCV viremia. The cost/effectiveness and speed were upgraded by using capillary/air rapid thermal cycler. The use of the triple assay in HCV diagnosis and post-therapy monitoring is recommended.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology*
  • Male
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • RNA, Viral