A Critical Evaluation of Hepatitis C Testing of Cadaveric Corneal Donors

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PurposeEnzyme immunoassays (EIAs) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies used to screen corneal donors are optimized for testing premortem sera. This study evaluated their efficiency when screening cadaveric sera.MethodsAbbott HCV EIA 2.0 was used to rescreen 101 cadaveric sera, 70 of which had tested positive and 31 negative by EIA 1.0. Matrix-HCV recombinant immunoblot assay was used as a reference standard. Antibody titers and reactivities were compared in premortem and cadaveric sera. Selected sera from confirmed seropositive donors were screened for virus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).ResultsHCV EIA 2.0 was 100% sensitive and 92.7% specific. EIA and Matrix-HCV gave similar end-point titers with pre- and postmortem sera. Viral RNA was detected in only three of 15 sera from seropositive donors.ConclusionsEIA 2.0 and Matrix-HCV efficiently screen cadaveric sera. However, HCV seropositivity does not necessarily indicate the presence of viral genomes in sera and tissues.

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