Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine II, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany, Freiburg, Germany. Berit.Lange@uniklinik-freiburg.de.
Centre for Chronic Immunodeficiency, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany, Freiburg, Germany. Berit.Lange@uniklinik-freiburg.de.
Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Pennsylvania, PA, Philadelphia, USA.
FIND, Geneva, Switzerland.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine II, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany, Freiburg, Germany.
Medicines sans Frontières, Access Campaign, Paris, France.
School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, USA.
Global Hepatitis Programme, HIV Department, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Sargent College, Boston University, MA, Boston, USA.
Pathogenesis and Control of Chronic Infections UMR 1058 INSERM/Université Montpellier/Etablissement Français du Sang, INSERM, 34394, Montpellier Cedex 5, France.
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Montpellier, Département de bactériologie-virologie, Montpellier, France.
Department of Medicine II, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Dried blood spots (DBS) are a convenient tool to enable diagnostic testing for viral diseases due to transport, handling and logistical advantages over conventional venous blood sampling. A better understanding of the performance of serological testing for hepatitis C (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) from DBS is important to enable more widespread use of this sampling approach in resource limited settings, and to inform the 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on testing for HBV/HCV.
We conducted two systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the diagnostic accuracy of HCV antibody (HCV-Ab) and HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) from DBS samples compared to venous blood samples. MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health and Cochrane library were searched for studies that assessed diagnostic accuracy with DBS and agreement between DBS and venous sampling. Heterogeneity of results was assessed and where possible a pooled analysis of sensitivity and specificity was performed using a bivariate analysis with maximum likelihood estimate and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI). We conducted a narrative review on the impact of varying storage conditions or limits of detection in subsets of samples. The QUADAS-2 tool was used to assess risk of bias.
For the diagnostic accuracy of HBsAg from DBS compared to venous blood, 19 studies were included in a quantitative meta-analysis, and 23 in a narrative review. Pooled sensitivity and specificity were 98% (95%CI:95%-99%) and 100% (95%CI:99-100%), respectively. For the diagnostic accuracy of HCV-Ab from DBS, 19 studies were included in a pooled quantitative meta-analysis, and 23 studies were included in a narrative review. Pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity were 98% (CI95%:95-99) and 99% (CI95%:98-100), respectively. Overall quality of studies and heterogeneity were rated as moderate in both systematic reviews.
HCV-Ab and HBsAg testing using DBS compared to venous blood sampling was associated with excellent diagnostic accuracy. However, generalizability is limited as no uniform protocol was applied and most studies did not use fresh samples. Future studies on diagnostic accuracy should include an assessment of impact of environmental conditions common in low resource field settings. Manufacturers also need to formally validate their assays for DBS for use with their commercial assays.