What is the role of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) relative to adenovirus infections?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is being used with high specificity on various specimens (eg, respiratory, tissue, urine, blood) to identify adenovirus and is available through commercial laboratories. Common adenoviral serotypes are included in commercial respiratory viral PCR arrays. A positive result from upper respiratory tract or stool samples is more difficult to interpret as it may represent virus shedding rather than symptomatic infection. Therefore, PCR results must be interpreted in the context of pre-test probability and the clinical findings of adenovirus disease. 

Detection of adenovirus DNA in the blood by quantitative PCR is increasingly utilized for the evaluation of adenovirus infections in immunocompromised patients. Studies have demonstrated an association between rising or high-level viremia and the risk of both invasive disease and mortality. [5, 28] [29]

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