Detection of herpes simplex virus in clinical specimens by DNA hybridization

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 1983 Jun;1(2):117-28. doi: 10.1016/0732-8893(83)90041-x.


An assay to detect herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA in clinical specimens has been developed. It utilizes nucleic acid hybridization with a 32P-labeled DNA probe prepared from a fragment of HSV DNA cloned in a plasmid vector. This assay can detect 5 X 10(4) plaque-forming units of cell-free HSV and as few as four virus-infected cells. The assay has a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 100% compared to virus culture for the detection of HSV in swab specimens from genital lesions. No hybridization is observed with uninfected, varicella-zoster virus infected, or cytomegalovirus infected cells, and specimens from herpes zoster lesions are uniformly negative. While hybridization with a 32P-labeled probe is not optimally suited for routine diagnostic use, this report establishes the feasibility of using nucleic acid hybridization to detect HSV in clinical specimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Plasmids
  • Simplexvirus / analysis*
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Viral