Human enteroviruses are the most frequent cause of aseptic meningitis and are involved in other neurological infections. Qualitative detection of enterovirus genomes in cerebrospinal fluid is a prerequisite in diagnosing neurological diseases. The pathogenesis of these infections is not well understood and research in this domain would benefit from the availability of a quantitative technique to determine viral load in clinical specimens. This study describes the development of a real-time RT-qPCR assay using hydrolysis TaqMan probe and a competitive RNA internal control. The assay has high specificity and can be used for a large sample of distinct enterovirus strains and serotypes. The reproducible limit of detection was estimated at 1875 copies/ml of quantitative standards composed of RNA transcripts obtained from a cloned echovirus 30 genome. Technical performance was unaffected by the introduction of a competitive RNA internal control before RNA extraction. The mean enterovirus RNA concentration in an evaluation series of 15 archived cerebrospinal fluid specimens was determined at 4.78 log(10)copies/ml for the overall sample. The sensitivity and reproducibility of the real time RT-qPCR assay used in combination with the internal control to monitor the overall specimen process make it a valuable tool with applied research into enterovirus infections.
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