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Definition of RT-PCR

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

RT-PCR: a highly sensitive technique for the detection and quantitation of mRNA (messenger RNA). The technique consists of two parts:

  1. The synthesis of cDNA (complementary DNA) from RNA by reverse transcription (RT) and
  2. The amplification of a specific cDNA by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

RT-PCR has been used to measure viral load with HIV and may also be used with other RNA viruses such as measles and mumps.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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