5 years ago

Evaluation of the performance of Abbott m2000 and Roche COBAS Ampliprep/COBAS Taqman assays for HIV-1 viral load determination using dried blood spots and dried plasma spots in Kenya

John Nkengasong, Seth Inzaule, John Williamson, Kenneth Ndiege, Rebecca Achieng, Dennis Ellenberger, Clement Zeh, Joy Chih-Wei Chang

by Clement Zeh, Kenneth Ndiege, Seth Inzaule, Rebecca Achieng, John Williamson, Joy Chih-Wei Chang, Dennis Ellenberger, John Nkengasong


Routine HIV viral load testing is not widely accessible in most resource-limited settings, including Kenya. To increase access to viral load testing, alternative sample types like dried blood spots (DBS), which overcome the logistic barriers associated with plasma separation and cold chain shipment need to be considered and evaluated. The current study evaluated matched dried blood spots (DBS) and dried plasma spots (DPS) against plasma using the Abbott M 2000 (Abbott) and Roche Cobas Ampliprep/Cobas TaqMan (CAP/CTM) quantitative viral load assays in western Kenya.


Matched plasma DBS and DPS were obtained from 200 HIV-1 infected antiretroviral treatment (ART)-experienced patients attending patient support centers in Western Kenya. Standard quantitative assay performance parameters with accompanying 95% confidence intervals (CI) were assessed at the assays lower detection limit (400cps/ml for CAP/CTM and 550cps/ml for Abbott) using SAS version 9.2. Receiver operating curves (ROC) were further used to assess viral-load thresholds with best assay performance (reference assay CAP/CTM plasma).


Using the Abbott test, the sensitivity and specificity, respectively, for DPS were (97.3%, [95%CI: 93.2–99.2] and 98.1% [95%CI: 89.7–100]) and those for DBS (93.9% [95%CI: 88.8–97.2] and 88.0% [95%CI: 82.2–92.4]). The correlation and agreement using paired plasma and DPS/DBS were strong, with r2 = 90.5 and rc = 68.1. The Bland-Altman relative percent change was 95.3 for DPS, (95%CI: 90.4–97.7) and 73.6 (95%CI: 51.6–86.5) for DBS. Using the CAP/CTM assay, the sensitivity for DBS was significantly higher compared to DPS (100.0% [95% CI: 97.6–100.0] vs. 94.7% [95%CI: 89.8–97.7]), while the specificity for DBS was lower: 4%, [95% CI: 0.4–13.7] compared to DPS: 94.0%, [95% CI: 83.5–98.7]. When compared under different clinical relevant thresholds, the accuracy for the Abbott assay was 95% at the 1000cps/ml cut-off with a sensitivity and specificity of 96.6% [95% CI 91.8–98.7] and 90.4% [95% CI 78.2–96.4] respectively. The optimum threshold was at 3000 cps/ml with an accuracy of 95.5%, sensitivity and specificity of 94.6% [95%CI 89.3–97.5] and 98.1% [95%CI 88.4–99.9]) respectively. The best threshold for CAP/CTM was at 4000 copies /mL, with 92.5% accuracy (sensitivity of 96.0% [95%CI 91.0–98.3] and specificity of 82.7% [95%CI 69.2–91.3]).


There was similar performance between matched DBS, DPS and plasma using the Abbott test, and good correlation for matched DPS and plasma using the CAPCTM test. The findings suggest that DBS and DPS may be reliably used as alternative specimens to plasma to measure HIV-1 VL using Abbott, and DPS may be reliably used with CAP/CTM in resource-limited settings.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179316

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