The effect of a non-denaturing detergent and a guanidinium-based inactivation agent on the viability of Ebola virus in mock clinical serum samples

J Virol Methods. 2017 Dec;250:34-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2017.09.020. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa required the rapid testing of clinical material for the presence of potentially high titre Ebola virus (EBOV). Safe, fast and effective methods for the inactivation of such clinical samples are required so that rapid diagnostic tests including downstream analysis by RT-qPCR or nucleotide sequencing can be carried out. One of the most commonly used guanidinium - based denaturing agents, AVL (Qiagen) has been shown to fully inactivate EBOV once ethanol is added, however this is not compatible with the use of automated nucleic acid extraction systems. Additional inactivation agents need to be identified that can be used in automated systems. A candidate inactivation agent is Triton X-100, a non-denaturing detergent that is frequently used in clinical nucleic acid extraction procedures and has previously been used for inactivation of EBOV. In this study the effect of 0.1% and 1.0% Triton X-100 (final concentration 0.08% and 0.8% respectively) alone and in combination with AVL on the viability of EBOV (106 TCID50/ml) spiked into commercially available pooled negative human serum was tested. The presence of viable EBOV in the treated samples was assessed by carrying out three serial passages of the samples in Vero E6 cells (37°C, 5% CO2, 1 week for each passage). At the end of each passage the cells were observed for evidence of cytopathic effect and samples were taken for rRT-PCR analysis for the presence of EBOV RNA. Before cell culture cytotoxic components of AVL and Triton X-100 were removed from the samples using size exclusion spin column technology or a hydrophobic adsorbent resin. The results of this study showed that EBOV spiked into human serum was not fully inactivated when treated with either 0.1% (v/v) Triton X-100 for 10 mins or 1.0% (v/v) Triton X-100 for 20 mins (final concentrations 0.08% and 0.8% Triton X-100 respectively). AVL alone also did not consistently provide complete inactivation. Samples treated with both AVL and 0.1% Triton X-100 for 10 or 20 mins were shown to be completely inactivated. This treatment is compatible with downstream analysis by RT-qPCR and next generation sequencing.

Keywords: AVL; Ebola virus; Inactivation: RT-PCR; Triton X-100.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood / virology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Ebolavirus / drug effects*
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Guanidine / pharmacology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / blood
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / virology
  • Humans
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Octoxynol / pharmacology*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Inactivation*


  • Octoxynol
  • Guanidine