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PCR Assay Useful for Early Detection of CMV in Infants

Last Updated: June 02, 2011.

Real-time polymerase chain reaction assays of both liquid- and dried-saliva specimens may represent a useful diagnostic tool for the detection of cytomegalovirus infections in newborns, according to a study published in the June 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays of both liquid- and dried-saliva specimens may represent a useful diagnostic tool for the detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in newborns, according to a study published in the June 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Suresh B. Boppana, M.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues compared the sensitivity and specificity of PCR assays of liquid-saliva or dried-saliva specimens with the traditional rapid-culture technique of saliva specimens obtained at birth. The detection of CMV infections in 34,989 newborns was assessed with the different methods.

The investigators identified 117 infants who were positive for CMV according to one of the three methods. A total of 85 of 17,662 infants screened for CMV with liquid-saliva PCR assay were positive on both PCR and rapid culture. The liquid-saliva PCR assay had sensitivity of 100 percent, specificity of 99.9 percent, a positive predictive value (PPV) of 91.4 percent, and a negative predictive value (NPV) of 100 percent. For the dried-saliva assay, 74 out of 17,327 infants were positive on the PCR, and 76 according to the rapid culture. The dried-saliva PCR had sensitivity and specificity of 97.4 percent, a PPV of 90.2 percent, and a NPV of 99.9 percent.

"Real-time PCR assays of both liquid- and dried-saliva specimens showed high sensitivity and specificity for detecting CMV infection and should be considered potential screening tools for CMV in newborns," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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