Three PCR assays were developed for detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in serum and were evaluated with samples from organ transplant recipients. The Qiamp Blood Kit was efficient for extraction of DNA from sera. Single-round PCR of a 293-bp region of CMV DNA was sensitive and highly specific for CMV targets and was more sensitive than detection of early antigen fluorescent foci (DEAFF) testing or isolation of CMV from buffy coat by cell culture. The results of a significant proportion of buffy coat samples were not interpretable because of toxicity in conventional culture or DEAFF tests. A non-competitve quantitative PCR test and semi-quantitative PCR test for the detection of CMV DNA in serum yielded comparable results for samples taken serially from three bone marrow transplant recipients. Single-round PCR was superior to conventional techniques for the diagnosis of CMV infection, was simple to perform and was completed rapidly. The semi-quantitative technique has added advantages where quantification is important.


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