AIM--To develop a simple but reliable polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method to determine the HIV-1 status of patients on formalin fixed, paraffin wax embedded lymph node tissue. METHODS--Fifty lymph node specimens, 20 from HIV-1 seropositive and 30 from HIV-1 seronegative patients, were analysed. Lymph nodes with a variety of disease conditions were included in the study. Tissue sections were treated with a DNA extraction buffer containing proteinase K and the crude cell lysate was used in PCR analysis. Nested primers were used to amplify HIV-1 DNA sequences coding for gag, pol and env proteins. PCR products were demonstrated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Results were then compared with HIV-1 serology of the patients from whom the tissue was obtained. RESULTS--The PCR method yielded a specificity of 100%, a sensitivity of 95%, a positive predictive value of 100%, and a negative predictive value of 97% when compared with HIV-1 serology. The kappa statistic (0.958) showed an excellent agreement between the PCR method and serology. Furthermore, HIV-1 DNA was demonstrated in lymph node tissue from a serologically unconfirmed acquired immunodeficiency syndrome case necropsied in 1982. CONCLUSION--This PCR method is a simple and reliable means of retrospectively determining the HIV-1 status of patients using formalin fixed, paraffin wax embedded lymph node tissue.
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