Prediction of the efficacy of antiviral therapy for hepatitis C virus infection by an ultrasensitive RT-PCR assay

Ei Kinai, Hideji Hanabusa, Shingo Kato

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The efficacy of interferon therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection improved remarkably. However, virologic relapse occurs in a substantial proportion of patients with virologic response (defined as an HCV RNA level below 50 IU/ml at the end-of-treatment). A highly sensitive RT-nested PCR assay capable of detecting almost a single copy of HCV RNA and a real-time RT-PCR assay to quantify HCV RNA down to 120 copies per ml were developed. The RT-nested PCR assay showed that 1 IU of HCV RNA is equivalent to 12.2 copies. For 28 patients with virologic response (12 relapsers and 16 sustained virologic responders), week-4 and end-of-treatment plasma samples were retested. At week 4, HCV RNA was detected by the RT-nested PCR and qualitative COBAS Amplicor HCV version 2.0 in 8/9 (89%) and 6/9 (67%) samples from relapsers, and in 4/16 (25%) and 2/16 (13%) samples from sustained virologic responders, respectively. End-of-treatment samples with HCV-negativebythe qualitative COBAS Amplicor were positive by the present assay in 4/12 (25%) of relapsing patients and 0/16 (0%) of sustained virologic responders. The viral levels detected by the present assay in the Amplicor-negative samples were 3.5-17.3 copies/ml, which is below the detection limit of COBAS Amplicor. In conclusion, the highly sensitive RT-nested PCR assay can predict sustained virologic response at week 4 and virologic relapse at the end-of-treatment more accurately than COBAS Amplicor, suggesting its usefulness in monitoring antiviral therapy for HCV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1119
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug 1



  • Accurate prediction
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Residual HCV RNA
  • Ultrasensitive RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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