Improved detection of dengue and Zika viruses using multiplex RT-qPCR assays

J Virol Methods. 2020 May 15;282:113862. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2020.113862. Online ahead of print.


Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are important viral pathogens, known to cause human infections with similar symptoms, are transmitted by common vectors and co-circulate in intertropical regions. Moreover, dengue fever results from infection with one of four different serotypes of dengue virus. Considering the recent ZIKV emergence, multiplex and up-to-date assays are more preferable for detection of both viruses in a single reaction. This study aimed to develop: (i) an one-step duplex real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay to efficiently and simultaneously detect and quantify DENV and ZIKV; (ii) a fourplex RT-qPCR to differentiate and quantify the four DENV serotypes. The detection limit of the duplex assay was 0.028 and 0.065 FFU (focus forming unit)/ml for DENV and ZIKV respectively. The lower limit of analytical sensitivity of fourplex assay was 0.01 FFU/ml for DENV-1 and 0.1 FFU/ml for DENV-2,-3 and -4. The assessment of specificity indicated both assays were highly specific to targeted viruses with negative results for other Flaviviridae such as Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, Yellow fever or Hepatitis C viruses. The newly developed RT-qPCRs were shown to be more sensitive than a previously described assay in detecting DENV in clinical samples and are suitable for the routine diagnosis.

Keywords: Zika virus; arbovirus; dengue virus; diagnosis; fourplex real-time RT-qPCR; one-step duplex real-time RT-qPCR.