Infect Chemother.  2008 Jun;40(3):167-169. 10.3947/ic.2008.40.3.167.

Comparison of Real-time PCR Methods and pp65 Antigenemia Assay to Detect Cytomegalovirus Reactivation in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

  • 1Center for Immunology and Pathology, National Institute of Health, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2The Catholic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Center, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a common human pathogen that causes morbidity and mortality in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients. Early diagnosis of HCMV infection or reactivation, and setting threshold values for effective pre-emptive therapies, are required for appropriate HCMV disease prevention in HSCT recipients. We compared the HCMV infections detected by the two methods, LightCycler-based PCR (LC PCR) and in-house immediate early protein PCR (in-house IE PCR) with the results of a pp65 antigenemia assay as the reference. The sensitivity and specificity for the in-house IE PCR were 79.3% and 72.7%, respectively, and 82.9% and 40.7%, respectively, for the LC PCR. The correlation between the HCMV viral load and pp65 antigenemia in HSCT recipients was r=0.603 with in-house IE PCR and r=0.525 with LC PCR. The discordant results between methods and relatively low (r) values suggest that we need more study to set threshold values according to the using methods with clinical outcome.


HCMV; Real-time PCR; pp65 antigenemia; LC PCR; In-house IE PCR

MeSH Terms

Early Diagnosis
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
Sensitivity and Specificity
Viral Load


  • Fig. 1 The correlation between the HCMV DNA loads measured by real-time PCR methods and the numbers of pp65-positive cells obtained by pp65 antigenemia assay was analyzed using 254 plasma samples collected from HSCT patients. (A) Correlation between the HCMV DNA load measured by LC PCR and the pp65-positive cell numbers obtained by pp65 antigenemia assay; (B) Correlation between the HCMV DNA load measured by in-house IE PCR and the pp65-positive cell numbers obtained by pp65 antigenemia assay; (C) Correlation between the HCMV DNA loads measured by LC PCR and by in-house IE PCR.

  • Fig. 2 Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves constructed from the HCMV DNA loads measured by LC PCR and in-house IE PCR to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the other real-time PCR method at each cut-off values using eighty-two pp65 antigenemia positive samples. The numbers in the Fig. indicate cut-off values for detection of HCMV infection were set as 10, 25, and 50 copies/mL in the in-house IE PCR and as 1000, 2,500, and 5,000 copies/ml in LC PCR.


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