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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Virology Journal 1/2017

Real-time PCR assays for hepatitis B virus DNA quantification may require two different targets

Virology Journal > Ausgabe 1/2017
Chao Liu, Le Chang, Tingting Jia, Fei Guo, Lu Zhang, Huimin Ji, Junpeng Zhao, Lunan Wang



Quantification Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA plays a critical role in the management of chronic HBV infections. However, HBV is a DNA virus with high levels of genetic variation, and drug-resistant mutations have emerged with the use of antiviral drugs. If a mutation caused a sequence mismatched in the primer or probe of a commercial DNA quantification kit, this would lead to an underestimation of the viral load of the sample. The aim of this study was to determine whether commercial kits, which use only one pair of primers and a single probe, accurately quantify the HBV DNA levels and to develop an improved duplex real-time PCR assay.


We developed a new duplex real-time PCR assay that used two pairs of primers and two probes based on the conserved S and C regions of the HBV genome. We performed HBV DNA quantitative detection of HBV samples and compared the results of our duplex real-time PCR assays with the COBAS TaqMan HBV Test version 2 and Daan real-time PCR assays. The target region of the discordant sample was amplified, sequenced, and validated using plasmid.


The results of the duplex real-time PCR were in good accordance with the commercial COBAS TaqMan HBV Test version 2 and Daan real-time PCR assays. We showed that two samples from Chinese HBV infections underestimated viral loads when quantified by the Roche kit because of a mismatch between the viral sequence and the reverse primer of the Roche kit. The HBV DNA levels of six samples were undervalued by duplex real-time PCR assays of the C region because of mutations in the primer of C region.


We developed a new duplex real-time PCR assay, and the results of this assay were similar to the results of commercial kits. The HBV DNA level could be undervalued when using the COBAS TaqMan HBV Test version 2 for Chinese HBV infections owing to a mismatch with the primer/probe. A duplex real-time PCR assay based on the S and C regions could solve this problem to some extent.
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