Detection of dengue viral RNA using a nucleic acid sequence-based amplification assay

S. J.L. Wu*, Mi Lee Eun Mi Lee, R. Putvatana, R. N. Shurtliff, K. R. Porter, W. Suharyono, D. M. Watts, C. C. King, G. S. Murphy, C. G. Hayes, J. W. Romano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Faster techniques are needed for the early diagnosis of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever during the acute viremic phase of infection. An isothermal nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) assay was optimized to amplify viral RNA of all four dengue virus serotypes by a set of universal primers and to type the amplified products by serotype-specific capture probes. The NASBA assay involved the use of silica to extract viral nucleic acid, which was amplified without thermocycling. The amplified product was detected by a probe-hybridization method that utilized electrochemiluminescence. Using normal human plasma spiked with dengue viruses, the NASBA assay had a detection threshold of 1 to 10 PFU/ml. The sensitivity and specificity of the assay were determined by testing 67 dengue virus-positive and 21 dengue virus-negative human serum or plasma samples. The "gold standard" used for comparison and evaluation was the mosquito C6/36 cell culture assay followed by an immunofluorescent assay. Viral infectivity titers in test samples were also determined by a direct plaque assay in Vero cells. The NASBA assay was able to detect dengue viral RNA in the clinical samples at plaque titers below 25 PFU/ml (the detection limit of the plaque assay). Of the 67 samples found positive by the C6/36 assay, 66 were found positive by the NASBA assay, for a sensitivity of 98.5%. The NASBA assay had a specificity of 100% based on the negative test results for the 21 normal human serum or plasma samples. These results indicate that the NASBA assay is a promising assay for the early diagnosis of dengue infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2794-2798
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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