Detection of cytomegalovirus by 24-well plate centrifugation assay using a monoclonal antibody to an early nuclear antigen and by conventional cell culture

Gail L. Woods, Anita Young, Ann Johnson, Geoffrey Milton Thiele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


During a 12-month period, two methods for detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) in 1624 clinical specimens were compared: (1) centrifugal inoculation of MRC-5 cells on coverslips in 24-well plates and staining with a monoclonal antibody to CMV early nuclear antigen after incubation for 40 h (EA assay), and (2) conventional tube cell culture. CMV was identified in 183 (11.3%) specimens from 113 different patients. The EA assay was positive for CMV in 144 183 specimens (79%), and CMV was detected by recognition of specific cytopathic effect (CPE) in conventional cell culture in 143 183 (78%). Both methods yielded CMV in 56% of the specimens ( 104 183). CMV was detected by EA assay alone in 22% ( 40 183) and only by CPE in 21% ( 39 183) of the positive specimens. When all specimen types were considered, there was no significant difference in the detection of CMV between the two methods. However, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluids yielded CMV more frequently by EA assay than by CPE (58 compared to 48 of 574, p = 0.0178), and CMV was detected in blood specimens more often by CPE than by EA assay (20 compared to one of 149, p < 0.0001). In addition to CMV, other viruses were recovered by conventional tube cell culture, including herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 from 17 BAL fluids (two of which were positive for CMV by EA assay) and one liver biopsy and adenovirus serotype 4 from four separate urine specimens and three gastrointestinal tract biopsies from one patient. Our data strongly suggest that all specimens submitted for isolation of CMV should be processed for both EA assay and conventional cell culture to provide optimal recovery of CMV. This would also aid in the detection of other viruses, primarily HSV, that may be present in the specimen and play a role in the patient's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1987



  • Conventional culture
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Early nuclear antigen
  • Rapid detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

Cite this