HCV-RNA Quantification in Liver Bioptic Samples and Extrahepatic Compartments, Using the Abbott RealTime HCV Assay

J Virol Methods. 2017 Aug;246:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2017.04.001. Epub 2017 Apr 11.


Background & aims: We evaluated the performance of a rapid method to quantify HCV-RNA in the hepatic and extrahepatic compartments, by using for the first time the Abbott RealTime HCV-assay.

Methods: Non-tumoral (NT), tumoral (TT) liver samples, lymph nodes and ascitic fluid from patients undergoing orthotopic-liver-transplantation (N=18) or liver resection (N=4) were used for the HCV-RNA quantification; 5/22 patients were tested after or during direct acting antivirals (DAA) treatment. Total RNA and DNA quantification from tissue-biopsies allowed normalization of HCV-RNA concentrations in IU/μg of total RNA and IU/106 liver-cells, respectively.

Results: HCV-RNA was successfully quantified with high reliability in liver biopsies, lymph nodes and ascitic fluid samples. Among the 17 untreated patients, a positive and significant HCV-RNA correlation between serum and NT liver-samples was observed (Pearson: rho=0.544, p=0.024). Three DAA-treated patients were HCV-RNA "undetectable" in serum, but still "detectable" in all tested liver-tissues. Differently, only one DAA-treated patient, tested after sustained-virological-response, showed HCV-RNA "undetectability" in liver-tissue.

Conclusions: HCV-RNA was successfully quantified with high reliability in liver bioptic samples and extrahepatic compartments, even when HCV-RNA was "undetectable" in serum. Abbott RealTime HCV-assay is a good diagnostic tool for HCV quantification in intra- and extra-hepatic compartments, whenever a bioptic sample is available.

Keywords: Chronic viral hepatitis; Direct acting antivirals (DAA); HCV; Liver biopsy; Orthotopic-liver-transplantation (OLT); Real time PCR.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ascitic Fluid / virology
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / virology*
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Viral Load / methods*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic