Evaluation of diagnostic methods (ELISA & PCR) for diagnosing cytomegalovirus infection in malignant patients

Original article


Beayou A 1, Abusedra A 2, Najam F 3

1-Department of Pediatrics, Alarab Medical University, Benghazi, Libya. 2-Department of Microbiology, Alarab Medical University , Benghazi, Libya. 3-Center for Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Benghazi, Libya.

Libyan J Infect Dis. 2009;3(1):61-64


Background/Objective: Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections are usually subclinical and the disease may be of diverse severity. Rapid etiological diagnosis helps in the institution of specific therapy. Laboratory diagnostic methods include virus antigen detection, virus isolation in diploid cell cultures, antibody assays by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). ELISA is the most common method used but interpretations of its results are difficult. The objective of this study was to evaluate a serological test (ELISA) and selected molecular test (PCR) in screening and diagnosis of CMV infection in children with malignant diseases.
Materials and methods: Seventy blood samples were collected from patients with different malignant diseases. These samples were collected from different age groups and were assayed for anti-CMV IgG antibodies by using the ELISA kits of BIOKIT. Quantitative PCR for the detection of CMV genomes was done for all samples.
Results: Of the 70 Patients included in the study, 35 cases were with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), 19 with lymphoma, four with neuroblastoma; four with Wilm`s tumor; two with retinoblastoma; two with aplastic anemia; and four with other solid tumors. Their ages ranged from 6 months to 15 years, while 40 (57.1%) were
males and 30 (42.9%) were females. All cases were positive for anti-CMV IgG antibodies (100%). However, only 2 (3%) of them had a detectable viral load of CMV by PCR.
Conclusion: In children with malignant diseases, assays based on quantitative detection of viral nucleic acid may provide more useful information for the detection of CMV than ELISA. Although ELISA results do not indicate an active infection in this group of patients, however it may help in the differential diagnosis of CMV infection.

Keywords: Cytomegalovirus, ELISA, polymerase chain reaction, malignant diseases.