Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is a nucleic acid amplification method with a high specificity, efficiency and speed. No reports exist regarding the usefulness of LAMP for clinically suspected skin infections caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV) or varicella zoster virus (VZV). The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of LAMP in the diagnosis of common cutaneous alpha herpesvirus (HSV type 1 and 2, and VZV) infections. LAMP and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were performed using swab samples collected from 106 patients with clinically suspected alpha herpesvirus skin infections. The results of LAMP performed with DNA extraction did not differ from those performed without DNA extraction. The sensitivity of LAMP tested against real-time PCR was 96% in herpes simplex, 78% in eczema herpeticum, 93% in herpes zoster and 100% in varicella. No viral DNA was detected by LAMP in all negative real-time PCR samples. Viral DNA load was significantly lower in samples with false-negative LAMP results than in the LAMP-positive samples. LAMP enables confirmation of clinically suspected cutaneous HSV and VZV infections. However, the sensitivity of LAMP is lower than real-time PCR. The accuracy of LAMP may increase if sufficient viral DNA is obtained from lesions. LAMP performed without DNA extraction remains sensitive; thus, LAMP represents a quick and economical method for the diagnosis of common alpha herpesvirus skin infections.
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