Current and future applications of dried blood spots in viral disease management

Antiviral Res. 2012 Mar;93(3):309-21. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2011.12.011. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


Almost five decades after their first application in diagnostics, dried blood spot (DBS) cards remain to be of key interest in many research areas and clinical applications. The advantages of sample stability during transport and storage, can now be combined with the high sensitivity of novel diagnostic techniques for the measurement and analysis of nucleic acids, proteins and small molecules which may overcome the limitations of the small samples sizes in DBS cards. Here we present a survey of the literature on the use of DBS cards for diagnosis, monitoring and epidemiological studies of virus infections other than HIV, including CMV, HBV, HCV, HAV, HEV, HTLV, EBV, HSV, measles-, rubella- and dengue-virus. The minimal invasiveness of sampling and the relative ease of handling and storing DBS cards is expected to offer additional opportunities to measure and analyze biomarkers of viral disease in resource poor settings or when limited amount of blood can be obtained. Large retrospective studies of virus infections in newborns using stored DBS cards have already been undertaken for screening of congenital infections. In addition, DBS cards have been used prospectively for prevalence studies, outbreak surveillance, mass screening for viral infections, follow-up of chronic infection and its treatment in resource-limited areas. We do not expect that current wet sampling techniques of plasma or serum will be replaced by DBS sampling but it allows extension of sampling in persons and settings that are currently difficult to access or that lack suitable storage facilities. In conclusion, DBS card sampling and storage will aid adequate outbreak management of existing and emerging viral diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood / virology*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Specimen Handling / trends
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*