Impact of HIV-1 genetic diversity on plasma HIV-1 RNA Quantification: usefulness of the Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le SIDA second-generation long terminal repeat-based real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2007 Aug 1;45(4):380-8. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3180640cf5.


The high genetic diversity of HIV-1 has a major impact on the quantification of plasma HIV-1 RNA, representing an increasingly difficult challenge. A total of 898 plasma specimens positive for HIV-1 RNA by commercial assays (Amplicor v1.5; Roche Diagnostic Systems, Alameda, CA or Versant v3.0; Bayer Diagnostics, Emeryville, CA) were tested using the Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le SIDA second-generation (G2) real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test: 518 samples containing HIV-1 of known subtype, including 88 from 2 subtype panels and 430 harboring B (n = 266) and non-B (n = 164) group M HIV-1 subtypes from patients followed up in 2002 through 2005 at Necker Hospital (Paris, France), and 380 samples from 10 different countries (Argentina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, France, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Thailand, and Zimbabwe). HIV-1 RNA values obtained by G2 real-time PCR were highly correlated with those obtained by the Amplicor v1.5 for B and non-B subtypes (R = 0.892 and 0.892, respectively) and for samples from diverse countries (R = 0.867 and 0.893 for real-time PCR vs. Amplicor v1.5 and real-time PCR vs. Versant v3.0, respectively). Approximately 30% of specimens harboring non-B subtypes were underquantified by at least -0.51 log10 in Amplicor v1.5 versus 5% underquantified in G2 real-time PCR. Discrepant results were also obtained with subtype B samples (14% underquantified by Amplicor v1.5 vs. 7% by G2 real-time PCR). Similar percentages were observed when comparing results obtained with the G2 real-time PCR assay with those obtained using the Versant assay. Addressing HIV-1 diversity, continual monitoring of HIV-1 RNA assays, together with molecular epidemiology studies, is required to improve the accuracy of all HIV RNA assays.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Variation*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV Long Terminal Repeat / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / classification*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Viral Load


  • RNA, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic