Objectives To exploit the features of digital PCR for implementing SARS-CoV-2 observational studies by reliably including the viral load factor expressed as copies/μL. Methods A small cohort of 51 Covid-19 positive samples was assessed by both RT-qPCR and digital PCR assays. A linear regression model was built using a training subset, and its accuracy was assessed in the remaining evaluation subset. The model was then used to convert the stored cycle threshold values of a large dataset of 6208 diagnostic samples into copies/μL of SARSCoV- 2. The calculated viral load was used for a single cohort retrospective study. Finally, the cohort was randomly divided into a training set (n = 3095) and an evaluation set (n = 3113) to establish a logistic regression model for predicting case-fatality and to assess its accuracy. Results The model for converting the Ct values into copies/μL was suitably accurate. The calculated viral load over time in the cohort of Covid-19 positive samples showed very low viral loads during the summer inter-epidemic waves in Italy. The calculated viral load along with gender and age allowed building a predictive model of case-fatality probability which showed high specificity (99.0%) and low sensitivity (21.7%) at the optimal threshold which varied by modifying the threshold (i.e. 75% sensitivity and 83.7% specificity). Alternative models including categorised cVL or raw cycle thresholds obtained by the same diagnostic method also gave the same performance. Conclusion The modelling of the cycle threshold values using digital PCR had the potential of fostering studies addressing issues regarding Sars-CoV-2; furthermore, it may allow setting up predictive tools capable of early identifying those patients at high risk of case-fatality already at diagnosis, irrespective of the diagnostic RT-qPCR platform in use. Depending upon the epidemiological situation, public health authority policies/aims, the resources available and the thresholds used, adequate sensitivity could be achieved with acceptable low specificity.

Modelling RT-qPCR cycle-threshold using digital PCR data for implementing SARS-CoV-2 viral load studies

Gentilini F.
;
Turba M. E.;Gritti T.;Dirani G.;Sambri V.
2021

Abstract

Objectives To exploit the features of digital PCR for implementing SARS-CoV-2 observational studies by reliably including the viral load factor expressed as copies/μL. Methods A small cohort of 51 Covid-19 positive samples was assessed by both RT-qPCR and digital PCR assays. A linear regression model was built using a training subset, and its accuracy was assessed in the remaining evaluation subset. The model was then used to convert the stored cycle threshold values of a large dataset of 6208 diagnostic samples into copies/μL of SARSCoV- 2. The calculated viral load was used for a single cohort retrospective study. Finally, the cohort was randomly divided into a training set (n = 3095) and an evaluation set (n = 3113) to establish a logistic regression model for predicting case-fatality and to assess its accuracy. Results The model for converting the Ct values into copies/μL was suitably accurate. The calculated viral load over time in the cohort of Covid-19 positive samples showed very low viral loads during the summer inter-epidemic waves in Italy. The calculated viral load along with gender and age allowed building a predictive model of case-fatality probability which showed high specificity (99.0%) and low sensitivity (21.7%) at the optimal threshold which varied by modifying the threshold (i.e. 75% sensitivity and 83.7% specificity). Alternative models including categorised cVL or raw cycle thresholds obtained by the same diagnostic method also gave the same performance. Conclusion The modelling of the cycle threshold values using digital PCR had the potential of fostering studies addressing issues regarding Sars-CoV-2; furthermore, it may allow setting up predictive tools capable of early identifying those patients at high risk of case-fatality already at diagnosis, irrespective of the diagnostic RT-qPCR platform in use. Depending upon the epidemiological situation, public health authority policies/aims, the resources available and the thresholds used, adequate sensitivity could be achieved with acceptable low specificity.
Gentilini F.; Turba M.E.; Taddei F.; Gritti T.; Fantini M.; Dirani G.; Sambri V.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/861988
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