Characterization of oseltamivir-resistant influenza virus populations in immunosuppressed patients using digital-droplet PCR: Comparison with qPCR and next generation sequencing analysis

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Abstract

Introduction:

The H275Y substitution in neuraminidase (NA) confers oseltamivir-resistance in A(H1N1) influenza viruses (IV). Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) is a new technique to explore single nucleotide polymorphisms. The aim of this study was to compare the performances of reverse transcriptase (RT)-ddPCR, RT-qPCR and next generation sequencing (NGS). We also analyzed the proportions of H275Y-NA substitution for two immunosuppressed patients with sustained shedding of A(H1N1)pdm09 IV.

Methods:

RT-qPCR was performed using the ABI7500 platform. RT-ddPCR was carried out using the QX200 ddPCR platform. We strengthened our results by a NGS assay (Ion PGM™ sequencer). Discrimination performance and sensitivity of the RT-ddPCR assay were evaluated using mixes of wild type (WT) and mutated H275Y-NA-coding segments.

Results:

The performance of RT-ddPCR was better than RT-qPCR, using NGS assay as a gold standard. RT-ddPCR was able to detect 0.28% oseltamivir-resistant IV in a WT IV population and 0.55% WT IV in an oseltamivir-resistant IV population. For the first patient, the H275Y-NA substitution was selected by oseltamivir treatment and reached about 50% of the IV population before dropping to less than 2% after treatment discontinuation which was under the lower limit of quantification by RT-qPCR and RT-ddPCR (<2%) after treatment stop. Then, five days after oseltamivir was re-introduced, the H275Y-NA substitution rose up to 100%. For the second patient, the H275Y-NA substitution reached about 30% two days after oseltamivir discontinuation.

Conclusion:

RT-ddPCR demonstrated better performances than classical RT-qPCR to estimate oseltamivir-resistant IV proportions. This technique could be used to detect earlier emergence of H275Y-NA substitution.

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