What is the role of viral cultures in the diagnosis of adenovirus infections?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Adenovirus is stable in routine viral transport medium. Appropriate samples include nasopharyngeal swabs or aspirates, throat swabs or washes, sputum, tracheal aspirates, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, conjunctival swabs or scrapings, stool or rectal swabs, urine, blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and unfixed tissue samples. Culture of viruses is not practical nor readily available in many hospital and some commercial laboratories, having been supplanted by antigen and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays.

Detection is enhanced if specimens are collected early in the clinical course and promptly shipped cold or frozen to the appropriate laboratory. Many adenovirus serotypes can be isolated in cell culture lines commonly used in diagnostic virology laboratories; a few, such as types 40 and 41, fail to grow (“noncultivatable” serotypes). Primary human embryonic kidney cells support growth of many fastidious adenovirus serotypes, but their additional cost may be prohibitive in some settings. Other cell lines may not support the growth of ocular strains well, may be less sensitive, or may not be maintainable to support slower-growing strains.


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