The clinical utility of using Catrimox-14-treated whole blood in detecting hepatitis C virus RNA.
BACKGROUND: Measuring hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in serum or plasma may underestimate the true HCV burden. Extracting viral RNA from whole blood (WB) with a cationic surfactant (Catrimox-14) has resulted in HCV RNA concentrations up to 1000-fold higher than from serum or plasma in some studies, but not others. We compared the Catrimox-14 WB assay with a standard serum assay. METHODS: Seventy-two chronic HCV patients received 48 weeks of standard or pegylated interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin therapy. Catrimox-14-treated WB and corresponding serum samples were obtained at baseline and weeks 12, 24, 48 and 72. HCV RNA concentrations from WB and serum were quantified by a previously validated RT-PCR assay. RESULTS: Overall mean (+/- SD) baseline serum log10 HCV RNA concentration was 6.5 ((+/- 0.58) copies/ml. Out of 72 patients, 33 had no detectable virus at 72 weeks. Neither assay detected virus in these patients at 12 weeks and neither WB nor serum assays detected virus at end-of-treatment in the 10 patients who subsequently relapsed at 72 weeks. HCV RNA concentrations from WB and serum assays were linearly correlated (R2 = 0.73; P < 0.001), although mean serum HCV RNA concentrations were 0.5 log10, copies/ml higher in serum than in WB [6.0 (+/- 0.82) vs 5.5 ((+/- 0.84), respectively, P = 0.12]. CONCLUSIONS: Catrimox-14-treated WB assays detect changes in HCV RNA, but do not offer clinical advantage over a conventional serum RT-PCR based assay.
Patel, K; Albrecht, J; Owens, E; Dev, A; Heaton, S; Pianko, S; Pockros, PJ; Conrad, A; Blatt, LM; McHutchison, JG
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