Performance of the ALethia CMV assay for detection of cytomegalovirus by use of neonatal saliva swabs

Academic Article


  • Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection is a major cause of childhood hearing loss and neurodevelopmental delay. Identification of newborns with cCMV infection allows provision of beneficial interventions. However, most infants with cCMV infection have subclinical infection and go undiagnosed. Thus, expanded neonatal CMV testing is increasingly recommended. Saliva is an attractive sample type for CMV testing of newborns, because it is easier to collect than urine and more sensitive for CMV detection than dried blood spots. We evaluated the Alethia CMV assay, a rapid, easy-to-use loop-mediated isothermal amplification method for qualitative detection of CMV DNA in neonatal saliva samples. Saliva swabs were collected prospectively from newborns ≤21 days old and tested by the Alethia assay according to the manufacturer's instructions. Archived saliva swabs from newborns with cCMV infection were also tested retrospectively. A composite reference method (CRM; two validated PCR assays followed by bidirectional sequencing of amplicons) was performed on all samples as the reference standard comparator. Of 1,480 prospectively collected saliva swabs, 1,472 (99.5%) were negative by both the Alethia assay and CRM, 5 (0.34%) were positive by both the Alethia assay and CRM, and 3 (0.20%) were positive only by the Alethia assay. All 34 (100%) archived swabs from newborns with cCMV infection were positive by both the CRM and the Alethia assay. Overall, the Alethia assay showed 100% and 99.8% positive and negative agreement with the CRM, respectively. The Alethia CMV assay is an accurate method for identifying neonates with cCMV infection and, given its simplicity, appears suitable for CMV testing using neonatal saliva outside a reference laboratory, including remote and resource-limited settings.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 994462
  • Author List

  • Gantt S; Goldfarb DM; Park A; Rawlinson W; Boppana SB; Lazzarotto T; Mertz LM
  • Volume

  • 58
  • Issue

  • 4