Detection of Zika virus replication in human semen by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction targeting of antisense ribonucleic acid

Ralph Huits, Birgit De Smet, Gilda Grard, Kaat Eggermont, Catherine Minto-Bain, Natalie Jess, Isabelle Leparc-Goffart, Denis Malvy, Lieselotte Cnops

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Background. Persistence of Zika virus (ZIKV) ribonucleic acid (RNA) in semen is common after infection.

Methods. We designed a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay that targets antisense ZIKV RNA (asRNA) to assess ZIKV replication competence in ZIKV RNA-positive semen samples.

Results. We detected ZIKV asRNA in semen of 9 of 19 men (47.4%) diagnosed with ZIKV infection. All asRNA-positive samples had high ZIKV loads (cycle threshold values

Conclusions. The sensitivity of the asRNA assay for detection of ZIKV replication was higher than that of conventional virus isolation methods (47.4% vs 21.1%, P = .032).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)319-323
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • antisense RNA
  • reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction
  • semen
  • sexual transmission
  • Zika virus

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