Evaluation of in vitro screening and diagnostic kits for hepatitis C virus infection

J Clin Virol. 2018 Aug:105:97-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2018.06.008. Epub 2018 Jun 11.


Background: To detect infection by hepatitis C virus (HCV), a reliable kit with high sensitivity and specificity is indispensable. Detection kits for anti-HCV antibodies (anti-HCV) are used for screening, and quantification kits for HCV RNA and core antigen are used for definite diagnosis of HCV infection.

Objectives: We evaluated the performance of these kits using International Standards and a regional reference panel with HCV negative and positive specimens.

Study design: In vitro diagnostic kits (10 anti-HCV, two HCV RNA, and three HCV core antigen) were included.

Results: Nearly all specimens in the regional reference panel were correctly identified by all anti-HCV detection kits (one false-positive was observed in one kit). Both HCV RNA quantification kits also correctly identified and quantified HCV RNA titers, without genotype-specific differences. Among the HCV core antigen kits, International Standard values were inconsistent. The sensitivities of these kits were insufficient to detect HCV in positive specimens in the regional reference panel.

Conclusions: In vitro diagnostic kits assessing anti-HCV and HCV RNA have sufficient sensitivities and specificities to screen and detect HCV infection. However, HCV core antigen quantification kits have some limitations in their sensitivities and consistencies for diagnosis of HCV infection. Quality control with International Standards and a regional reference panel is important to maintain the performances of diagnostic kits for HCV infection and to verify the clinical reliability of these kits.

Keywords: Diagnostics; Genotype; HCV; Quantification; core antigen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Hepacivirus
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood*
  • Hepatitis C Antigens / blood
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / standards*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Viral Core Proteins


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Hepatitis C Antigens
  • RNA, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Viral Core Proteins