Correction of underquantification of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 load with the second version of the Roche Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas TaqMan assay

AIDS Reference Laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Subunit UZ Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels, Belgium.
Journal of clinical microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.99). 02/2010; 48(4):1337-42. DOI: 10.1128/JCM.01226-09
Source: PubMed


Initial evaluations of the Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas TaqMan human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) test (CAP/CTM) demonstrated good performance but, afterwards, reports about underquantification were published. We investigated whether the problem was solved with a second version of this assay, the Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas TaqMan HIV-1 test, version 2.0 (CAP/CTM v2.0). The remaining plasma of 375 consecutive HIV-1 positive samples with a viral load of >or=4,000 copies/ml was collected in three laboratories. The samples were diluted and retested with our routine method Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas Amplicor HIV-1 monitor test v1.5 in ultrasensitive mode (CAP/CA PHS), as well as with the CAP/CTM and CAP/CTM v2.0 tests. An absolute difference between the results of two methods of >or=0.71 log(10) copies/ml was defined as moderately discrepant, and an absolute difference of >or=0.93 log(10) copies/ml was defined as severely discrepant. In addition, criteria for considering the new methods equivalent to the routine method were formulated. (i) For CAP/CTM compared to CAP/CA PHS, 36 (9.5%) and 20 (5.3%) samples were, respectively, considered moderately and severely underquantified by CAP/CTM. The mean difference between CAP/CTM and CAP/CA PHS was -0.32 log(10) copies/ml. Eight of nineteen of the severely underquantified samples were from patients infected with HIV-1 subtype B strain. (ii) For CAP/CTM v2.0 compared to CAP/CA PHS, no sample was moderately or severely underquantified by CAP/CTM v2.0. A mean difference of 0.08 log(10) copies/ml was found with CAP/CTM v2.0 compared to CAP/CA PHS. The underquantification problem of the CAP/CTM kit was clearly demonstrated. The criteria for the equivalence of CAP/CTM v2.0 to the routine test CAP/CA PHS were fulfilled.

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    • "Re-testing samples with Amplicor v1.5 revealed a subset of samples (N = 29) with systematically underestimated viral loads by TaqMan v1 compared to Amplicor v1.5. For these patients, archived samples were re-tested with the Roche TaqMan version 2 (“TaqMan v2”) [15] and/or the Abbott m2000 RealTime HIV-1 assay (Abbott Molecular Diagnostics, Wiesbaden, Germany). Where sufficient plasma was available, HIV gag was also sequenced to assess potential TaqMan v1 primer incompatibility. "
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    ABSTRACT: The lower limit of detection of the original Roche Amplicor HIV plasma viral load (pVL) assay (50 copies/mL) has defined HIV treatment success. The Amplicor assay, however, has been replaced by the Roche TaqMan assay(s). Changes to the limits of detection and calibration have not been validated for clinical utility. Sudden increases in the number of patients with detectable pVL have been reported following the introduction of the TaqMan version 1 assay. Between October 2009 and April 2010 all routine pVL samples from British Columbia, Canada, with 40-250 copies/mL by TaqMan were re-tested by Amplicor (N = 1198). Subsequent short-term virological and resistance outcomes were followed in patients with unchanged therapy (N = 279; median 3.2 months follow-up). TaqMan and Amplicor values correlated poorly at low pVL values. Low-level pVL by TaqMan was not associated with impending short-term virological failure; only 17% of patients with 40-250 copies/mL by TaqMan had detectable pVL by Amplicor at follow-up. During the follow-up period only 20% of patients had an increase in pVL by TaqMan (median [IQR]: 80 [36-283] copies/mL). In addition, in ~2.4% of samples pVL was dramatically underestimated by TaqMan due to poor binding of the proprietary TaqMan primers. The replacement of Amplicor with the TaqMan assay has altered the previously accepted definition of HIV treatment failure without any evidence to support the clinical relevance of the new definition. Given the systematic differences in measurement in the low pVL range the British Columbia HIV treatment guidelines now use a threshold of >250 copies/mL by TaqMan to define treatment failure.
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