Comparative analysis of different TaqMan real-time RT-PCR assays for the detection of swine Hepatitis E virus and integration of Feline calicivirus as internal control


Alaine Houde, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Food Research and Development Centre, 3600 Casavant Blvd West, St-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada, J2S 8E3. E-mail:


Aims:  The aim of this study was to compare the performance of four TaqMan RT-PCR assays with a commonly used nested RT-PCR and to include the Feline calicivirus (FCV) as an internal control.

Methods and Results:  RNA extracted from 87 swine faecal samples and 103 swine blood samples was subjected to different detection systems. Faecal samples naturally contaminated with Hepatitis E virus (HEV) and negative samples were artificially inoculated with 3·2 × 103 PFU of FCV. Detection results obtained on faecal and plasma samples were 35·6% and 4·9% with the nested RT-PCR assay, 8·0% and 0%, 0% and 0%, 13·8% and 0% and 36·8% and 3·9% with TaqMan systems A, B, C and D respectively. The Ct means obtained with the multiplex TaqMan assay were 30·11 and 30·43 for the detection of FCV with HEV contaminated samples and negative samples.

Conclusions:  The TaqMan system D was more suitable for the detection of swine HEV strains than the three others and FCV was integrated successfully as an internal control.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  FCV was demonstrated as an efficient control to monitor the RNA extraction process and HEV amplification procedure in a multiplex HEV/FCV TaqMan assay. This control would be helpful in limiting false negative results.