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Use of the polymerase chain reaction to detect herpes simplex virus DNA in paraffin sections of human brain at necropsy.
  1. J A Nicoll,
  2. N J Maitland,
  3. S Love
  1. Department of Neuropathology, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK.


    The feasibility of detecting herpesvirus DNA in paraffin sections of routinely fixed and processed human necropsy brains by use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was assessed. A 110 bp segment of the thymidine kinase gene of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) could readily be amplified in sections from the brains of six patients with acute HSV1 encephalitis but not from those of six patients with other neurological diseases, including varicella-zoster encephalitis and herpes simplex virus type 2 encephalitis. Primers suitable for amplifying c-myc were included in the PCRs for assessment of DNA preservation. This was found to be adequate to allow amplification of c-myc DNA in sections from all of the brains studied. The PCR provides a simple and specific means of detecting HSV1 DNA in routinely processed necropsy material.

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