Comparison of commercial assays for the quantification of HBV DNA load in health care workers: calibration differences

J Virol Methods. 2002 Feb;100(1-2):37-47. doi: 10.1016/s0166-0934(01)00396-2.


Until recently, carriers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) were allowed to undertake exposure prone procedures providing their serum did not contain HBeAg. However, the recent description of hepatitis B transmission events occurring from HBV-infected health care workers who conduct exposure prone procedures demonstrated that the then current Department of Health guidelines needed to be revised. As part of a series of studies carried out to determine if viral load measurements are a more secure means of assessing the conduct of exposure prone procedures, the suitability of commercially available assays for HBV DNA detection and quantification were investigated. This study describes a comparative analysis on the performances of three assays each based on a different methodology. The assays included the QUANTIPLEX HBV DNA Assay (bDNA), (Chiron Diagnostics Ltd.), the AMPLICOR HBV Monitor Test, (Roche Diagnostics Systems) and the Digene Hybrid Capture System HBV DNA Assay (Digene Corporation). Calibration curves from experiments using the Eurohep ad and ay HBV DNA standard controls indicated a close correlation between the three assays over the dynamic ranges claimed by the manufacturers, although the Quantiplex assay did appear to be over-reporting. This became more apparent when testing patients undergoing anti-viral therapy where the Quantiplex assay consistently over-reported by 0.5 log(10) when compared with the Amplicor assay. The results of this study indicate that based on its dynamic range, the Amplicor HBV Monitor test is the most appropriate assay for the routine investigation of anti-HBe carriers, which will have lower levels of HBV DNA. The investigation also highlights the need for using accepted standard HBV DNA control sera. This will be essential when using an assay to establish whether health care workers who are hepatitis B carriers can be allowed to perform exposure prone procedures under the new guidelines of the UK Department of Health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • DNA, Viral / blood*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Hepatitis B / blood
  • Hepatitis B / virology*
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Viral Load*


  • DNA, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic