An Evaluation of Phosphate Buffer Saline as an Alternative Liquid-Based Medium for HPV DNA Detection

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Gynecologic Cancer Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

2 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Objective: HPV detection has been proposed as part of the co-testing which improves the sensitivity of cervical screening. However, the commercially liquid-based medium adds cost in low-resource areas. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of ice-cold phosphate buffer saline (PBS) for HPV detection. Methods: HPV DNA from SiHa cells (with 1-2 copies of HPV16 per cell) preserved in ice-cold PBS or PreserveCyt solution at different time points (24, 36, 48, 72, 120 and 168 h) was tested in triplicate using Cobas 4800. The threshold cycle (Ct) values of both solutions were compared. An estimated false negative rate of PBS was also assessed by using the difference in Ct values between both solutions (∆Ct) and Ct values of HPV16-positive PreserveCyt clinical samples (Ctsample) at corresponding time points. Samples with a (Ctsample+∆Ct) value > 40.5 (the cutoff of HPV16 DNA by Cobas 4800) were considered as false negativity. Results: The Ct values of HPV16 DNA of SiHa cells collected in PBS were higher than PreserveCyt ranging from 0.43 to 2.36 cycles depending on incubation times. There was no significant difference at 24, 72, 120, and 168 h.  However, the Ct values were statistically significantly higher for PBS than PreserveCyt at 36 h (31.00 vs 29.26), and 48 h (31.06 vs 28.70). A retrospective analysis in 47 clinical PreserveCyt collected samples that were positive for HPV16 DNA found that 1 case (2%) would become negative if collected in ice-cold PBS. Conclusions: The PBS might be an alternative collecting medium for HPV detection in the low-resource areas. Further evaluations are warranted.


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