Journal Article

Compartmentalization of Acyclovir-Resistant Varicella Zoster Virus: Implications for Sampling in Molecular Diagnostics

Antoinette A. T. P. Brink, Michel van Gelder, Petra F. Wolffs, Cathrien A. Bruggeman and Inge H. M. van Loo

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 52, issue 8, pages 982-987
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/cir079
Compartmentalization of Acyclovir-Resistant Varicella Zoster Virus: Implications for Sampling in Molecular Diagnostics

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Background. Acyclovir resistance of varicella zoster virus (VZV) may arise in stem cell transplant (SCT) recipients with VZV disease and is usually a result of mutations in VZV thymidine kinase (TK), which is the target protein of acyclovir. Early detection of such mutations is necessary to enable timely therapy adaptation, for example, to foscarnet. We aimed to investigate whether TK mutations arise over time, and what sample types might be the most useful for this method.

Methods. Spatially and temporally distinct samples from 3 SCT recipients with VZV disease unresponsive to acyclovir treatment were retrospectively investigated for the presence of TK mutations by polymerase chain reaction and sequence analysis.

Results. In all 3 patients, a mutation in the VZV TK coding region was found resulting in an amino acid substitution. TK mutations were not only temporally but also spatially compartmentalized. In particular, plasma samples frequently showed wild-type TK sequences, whereas cerebrospinal fluid or skin vesicle fluid acquired on the same day contained mutant sequences.

Conclusions. This study shows the importance of careful sampling for molecular diagnostics of acyclovir resistance in VZV disease. All affected body sites should be sampled and plasma samples may not be representative for the viral mutation status.

Journal Article.  3267 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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