Polymerase chain reaction and viral culture techniques to detect HSV in small volumes of cerebrospinal fluid; an experimental mouse encephalitis study

J Virol Methods. 1989 Aug;25(2):189-97. doi: 10.1016/0166-0934(89)90032-3.


A technique is described for the detection of HSV-DNA in very small volumes (5-10 microliters) of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The method was evaluated in CSF samples of 4-6-week-old mice inoculated with HSV-1 via the corneal route. The sensitivity of the PCR assay was compared with results of spin-amplified viral culture with immunofluorescent visualization (SAC/IF), routine viral culture (RVC) and radioactive dot-blot hybridization (DBA) in CSF samples obtained from other mice. The results show the PCR to be superior over the other techniques: infectious virus or viral DNA in CSF was demonstrated by PCR, SAC/IF, RVC and DBA in 68, 55, 20 and 2.5%, respectively. These results show the feasibility of the PCR for a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis of human HSV-encephalitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Amplification*
  • Herpes Simplex / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Simplexvirus / genetics*
  • Simplexvirus / isolation & purification


  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase