Reverse transcriptase droplet digital PCR vs reverse transcriptase quantitative real-time PCR for serum HBV RNA quantification.
Limothai U., Chuaypen N., Poovorawan K., Chotiyaputta W., Tanwandee T., Poovorawan Y., Tangkijvanich P.
Serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA is a novel marker reflecting the activity of covalently closed circular DNA. However, the methodology for detecting HBV RNA has been a technical challenge. In this study, the performance of reverse transcription droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (RT-ddPCR) for quantifying HBV RNA was compared with that of reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) in serum samples collected from treatment-naïve patients with different phases of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). A total of 417 serum samples, including 136 HBeAg-positive CHB and 281 HBeAg-negative CHB were examined. HBV RNA levels measured by RT-ddPCR and RT-qPCR showed a high degree of linearity and quantitative correlation. The limit of detections of RT-ddPCR and RT-qPCR assays were 102 and 103 copies/mL, respectively. Our results also demonstrated that RT-ddPCR was superior to RT-qPCR in terms of its consistency for quantifying HBV RNA across all concentrations. In the HBeAg-positive group, serum HBV RNA levels based on RT-ddPCR were moderately correlated with HBV DNA (r = 0.591, P