Comparison of genotyping and serotyping methods for the identification of hepatitis C virus types.
Tisminetzky S., Gerotto M., Pontisso P., Chemello L., Prescott LE., Rose KA., Baralle F., Simmonds P., Alberti A.
The usefulness of identification of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype has recently been investigated for the clinical management of patients infected by HCV. In the present study, the HCV genotype infecting 127 patients was determined by two different methods: HCV genotyping using a dot-blot assay with type-specific probes derived from the 5'-UTR of HCV genome and HCV serotyping using an ELISA system in which type-specific antibodies against the NS4 region were detected. Overall, a good correlation of the two methods was observed, the main discrepancy being 4 patients with sequence-confirmed HCV-2 (2 cases) and HCV-3 (2 cases) genotypes recognized as HCV-1 by serotyping. Mixed infections were not detected by either method. In 19 PCR negative sera, in which the HCV genotype could not be evaluated, no particular serotype profile was observed. In conclusion, the molecular and serological techniques are almost equivalent in determining the viral type, although in individual cases, especially in PCR negative patients, the clinical meaning of the serotyping result remains to be determined.