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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the use of dried blood spot (DBS) samples for hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA quantification, HBV genotyping, and detection of G1896A precore mutants and variants in the YMDD polymerase motif. We studied DBS and serum samples from 82 patients with chronic HBV infection (23 hepatitis B e antigen [HBeAg]-positive and 39 HBeAg-negative), 20 HBeAg-inactive carriers, and 15 HBeAg-negative patients under lamivudine therapy (selected from chronic HBV patients). DBS samples consisted of approximately 20 μL of blood applied to 5-mm paper disks. HBV DNA quantification and HBV precore mutant detection were done using real-time polymerase chain reaction, HBV genotyping using restriction fragment length polymorphism, and YMDD variant detection by Inno-lipa assay. DBS and serum results were compared. HBV DNA was detected in a range of 102–108 copies/mL, with low intra-assay and inter-assay variation (<10%). Median DBS HBV DNA (copies/mL) was: 3.7 × 106 in HBeAg-positive, 6.2 × 105 in HBeAg-negative, and 5.5 × 102 in inactive carriers (P < .05). HBV DNA was positive in serum (median 5 × 103 copies/mL) but negative in DBS for five inactive carriers. The correlation coefficient between HBV DNA concentration in DBS versus serum samples was r2 = 0.96 (P < .001). The sensitivity of HBV DNA detection in DBS samples was 1 log10 lower than in serum samples. Concordance between DBS and serum for HBV genotyping, and for precore mutant and YMDD variant detection was optimal. DBS storage for 7 days at room temperature and 21 days at −20°C revealed no decrease in HBV DNA levels or integrity. In conclusion, the DBS sample is useful for HBV DNA quantification, genotyping, and detection of precore mutant and YMDD variants. All four determinations can be completed with a single drop of dried blood. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;40:133–139.)