Comparison of Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase PCR Assays for Detection of Swine Hepatitis E Virus in Fecal Samples
Gerber, Priscilla F.
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major cause of acute viral hepatitis in people in many developing countries and is also endemic in many industrialized countries. Mammalian HEV (mHEV) isolates can be divided into at least four recognized major genotypes. Several nucleic acid amplification techniques have been developed for mHEV detection, with great differences in sensitivity. The aim of this study was to compare the performances of two singleplex real-time reverse transcriptase (RT) PCR assays for broad detection of all four mHEV genotypes (assays A and B) and two duplex real-time RT-PCR assays for detection and differentiation of mHEV genotypes 3 and 4 (assays C and D). RNAs extracted from 28 fecal samples from pigs experimentally inoculated with HEV genotype 3 and 186 fecal samples from commercial pigs with unknown HEV exposure were tested by all four assays. In experimental samples, HEV RNA was detected in 96.4% (assay A), 39.2% (assay B), 14.2% (assay C), and 0% (assay D) of the samples. In field samples with unknown HEV exposure, HEV RNA was detected in 67.2% (assay A), 36.4% (assay B), 1.1% (assay C), and 0.5% (assay D) of the samples. The assays showed overall poor agreement (kappa = 0.19 to 0.03), with differences in detection rates between assays (P < 0.01). Assays A and B, which broadly detect HEV genotypes 1 to 4, had significantly higher detection rates for HEV RNA than the duplex assays C and D, which were both designed to detect and differentiate between HEV genotypes 3 and 4.