Background/Purpose: In the past few years, many new subtypes in hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 6 have been identified. The aim of this study was to modify the multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) protocol and use it to determine the HCV subtypes of a group of Taiwanese injection drug users (IDUs). Methods: We used 76 serum specimens collected in northern Taiwan in 2008. Multiplex RT-PCR was used for HCV subtyping among those serum samples having anti-HCV antibodies. Twenty cases were randomly selected for comparison with subtyping results from Inno-LiPa II tests and phylogenetic tree analysis using NS5B sequences. Results: Multiplex RT-PCR assays showed that 60.5% (46/76) of IDUs had single HCV infection. Three out of 76 (3.9%) had double HCV infection (1b/6a, 2a/2b and 2b/6a). Besides this, 27.6% (21/76) had no HCV signal. One IDU had subtype 6n and two had subtype 6w infection. Inno-LiPa II tests misclassified all 6n and 6w cases as 1b subtype. Conclusion: Our modified multiplex RT-PCR protocol can be used to support molecular epidemiological studies and laboratory diagnoses of different HCV subtypes including genotype 6.
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