Objective To assess the validity of the guinea pig as a model for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection by comparing the effectiveness of detecting the virus by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in blood, urine, and saliva.
Design Case-control study.
Setting Academic research.
Subjects Eleven pregnant Hartley guinea pigs.
Main Outcome Measures Blood, urine, and saliva samples were collected from guinea pig pups delivered from pregnant dams inoculated with guinea pig CMV. These samples were then evaluated for the presence of guinea pig CMV by real-time PCR assuming 100% transmission.
Results Thirty-one pups delivered from 9 inoculated pregnant dams and 8 uninfected control pups underwent testing for guinea pig CMV and for auditory brainstem response hearing loss. Repeated-measures analysis of variance demonstrated no statistically significantly lower weight for the infected pups compared with the noninfected control pups. Six infected pups demonstrated auditory brainstem response hearing loss. The sensitivity and specificity of the real-time PCR assay on saliva samples were 74.2% and 100.0%, respectively. The sensitivity of the real-time PCR on blood and urine samples was significantly lower than that on saliva samples.
Conclusions Real-time PCR assays of blood, urine, and saliva revealed that saliva samples show high sensitivity and specificity for detecting congenital CMV infection in guinea pigs. This finding is consistent with recent screening studies in human newborns. The guinea pig may be a good animal model in which to compare different diagnostic assays for congenital CMV infection.