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Diagnosis Of Fastidious Enteric Adenoviruses 40 And 41 In Stool Specimens

M Brown, M Petric, P J Middleton

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Thirty-five stool specimens, collected over a 14-week period from pediatric gastroenteritis patients and shown to contain adenovirus by electron microscopy, were inoculated onto 293 and HeLa cells. Virus isolates were characterized by serum neutralization and restriction endonuclease cleavage analysis of viral DNA from infected cells. Adenovirus was isolated upon primary inoculation of 293 cells from all 35 specimens shown to contain adenovirus by electron microscopy. Fastidious adenoviruses 40 and 41 (Ad40 and Ad41) were found in 17 (49%) of the stool specimens, and 4 of these specimens contained a conventional species (Ad1, Ad1, Ad18, Ad31) as well as Ad40. This was first manifest by the observation that four of the isolates which initially grew only in 293 cells acquired the capacity to grow in HeLa cells upon subsequent passage. In each case, the conventional species was undetectable by DNA analysis in the original inoculum but was selected in 293 cells and became the only one detectable by the second passage. Four other specimens, containing Ad1 or Ad31 alone, failed to grow initially in HeLa cells but did grow in 293 cells. The results of this study demonstrate therefore that (i) 293 cells are more sensitive than HeLa cells for the isolation of conventional as well as fastidious enteric adenovirus species and (ii) identification of viruses from patient specimens should involve minimal passage of the virus in cell culture, as a single passage can result in misdiagnosis of the virus associated with the infection.