The clinical significance of the detection of low copy numbers of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in immune-suppressed patients remains unclear. In this study, we compared the artus CMV Rotor-Gene PCR, utilizing an automated nucleic acid extraction and assay setup (the artus CMV protocol), with the COBAS Amplicor CMV Monitor test (our reference protocol). We then analyzed the results of all CMV PCR tests ordered following the implementation of the artus CMV protocol at our institution and followed 91 adult patients with positive test results. The artus CMV protocol had a linear range extending from 2.0 to 7.0 log(10) copies/ml and had a lower limit of 95% detection of 57 copies/ml. With archived plasma samples, this protocol demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 94% specificity for the detection of CMV DNA. Following implementation of the artus CMV protocol, 320 of 1,403 (22.8%) plasma samples tested positive (compared with 323/3,579 [9.0%] samples in the preceding 6 months), and 227 (16.2%) samples had copy numbers of <400/ml. Ninety-one adult patients had at least one positive test. The data were analyzed using a threshold of 200 copies/ml, and in 22 episodes, the viral load increased from <200 copies/ml to = 200 copies/ml on sequential tests. In 21 of these 22 episodes, either the viral load continued to increase or antiviral treatment was initiated in response to the repeat value. In summary, we evaluate the performance characteristics of a protocol utilizing the artus CMV PCR and identify clinically meaningful changes in CMV DNA copy numbers even when they are initially detected at a low level.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.06800-11
View details for Web of Science ID 000307360800033
View details for PubMedID 22518866
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3405616