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Digital PCR as a tool to measure HIV persistence

  • Rutsaert, Sofie
  • Bosman, Kobus
  • Trypsteen, Wim
  • Nijhuis, Monique
  • Vandekerckhove, Linos
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Although antiretroviral therapy is able to suppress HIV replication in infected patients, the virus persists and rebounds when treatment is stopped. In order to find a cure that can eradicate the latent reservoir, one must be able to quantify the persisting virus. Traditionally, HIV persistence studies have used real-time PCR (qPCR) to measure the viral reservoir represented by HIV DNA and RNA. Most recently, digital PCR is gaining popularity as a novel approach to nucleic acid quantification as it allows for absolute target quantification. Various commercial digital PCR platforms are nowadays available that implement the principle of digital PCR, of which Bio-Rad's QX200 ddPCR is currently the most used platform in HIV research. Quantification of HIV by digital PCR is proving to be a valuable improvement over qPCR as it is argued to have a higher robustness to mismatches between the primers-probe set and heterogeneous HIV, and forfeits the need for a standard curve, both of which are known to complicate reliable quantification. However, currently available digital PCR platforms occasionally struggle with unexplained false-positive partitions, and reliable segregation between positive and negative droplets remains disputed. Future developments and advancements of the digital PCR technology are promising to aid in the accurate quantification and characterization of the persistent HIV reservoir.

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