Jump to the main content block

Huey-Pin Tsai(Assistant Professor)

Lab place: Clinical virology lab, Department of Pathology, National Cheng Kung University Hospital
E-mail: tsaihp@mail.ncku.edu.tw
Phone: 886-6-2353535 Ext 2653


  • 2004, M.S., Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • 1993, B.S., Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.


My research focuses on diagnostic virology, molecular virology, viral surveillance, epidemiology of enteroviruses and influenza, validation and development of new clinical virology testing platform, antiviral drug resistant.

1. Validation and Application of a Commercial Quantitative Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase-PCR (qRT-PCR) Assay in Investigation of a Large Dengue Virus Outbreak in Southern Taiwan. (Tsai et al. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 12;10(10):e0005036.)

Accurate, rapid, and early diagnosis of dengue virus (DENV) infections is essential for optimal clinical care. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of the quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR)-LightMix dengue virus EC kit for DENV detection using samples from a dengue outbreak in Taiwan in 2015. Sera from patients with suspected DENV infection were analyzed and compared using the LightMix kit, a Dengue NS1 Ag + Ab Combo kit for detection of NS1 antigen and DENV-specific IgM and IgG antibodies, and an “in-house” qualitative DENV-specific RT-PCR assay. A total of 8,989, 8,954, and 1581 samples were subjected to NS1 antigen detection, IgM and IgG detection, and LightMix assays, respectively. The LightMix assay yielded a linear curve for viral loads (VL) between 102 and 106 copies/reaction, and the minimum detection limits for DENV serotype 1 (DENV1) and DENV2, DENV3, and DENV4 were 1, 10, and 100 focus forming units (FFU)/mL, respectively. There was 88.9% concordance between the results obtained using the NS1 antigen combo kit and by LightMix analysis, and the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the two methods were 89.4 and 100%, and 84.7 and 100%, respectively. Notably, fatal cases were attributed to DENV2 infection, and 79.5% (27/34) of these cases occurred in patients ≥ 71 years of age. Among these older patients, 82.3% (14/17) were NS1/IgM/IgG (+/-/-), exhibiting VLs between 106–109 copies/mL, which was markedly higher than the rate observed in the other age groups. The LightMix assay was effective for early diagnosis of DENV infection. Our data indicate that high VLs during primary infection in elderly patients may be a positive predictor for severe illness, and may contribute to high mortality rates.

2. Comparison of two commercial automated nucleic acid extraction and integrated qRT-PCR platforms for the detection of cytomegalovirus in plasma. (Tsai et al. PLoS One. 5;11(8):e0160493.)

Quantitation of cytomegalovirus (CMV) viral load in the transplant patients has become a standard practice for monitoring the response to antiviral therapy. The cut-off values of CMV viral load assays for preemptive therapy are different due to the various assay designs employed. To establish a sensitive and reliable diagnostic assay for preemptive therapy of CMV infection, two commercial automated platforms including m2000sp extraction system integrated the Abbott RealTime (m2000rt) and the Roche COBAS AmpliPrep for extraction integrated COBAS Taqman (CAP/CTM) were evaluated using WHO international CMV standards and 110 plasma specimens from transplant patients. The performance characteristics, correlation, and workflow of the two platforms were investigated. The Abbott Real-Time assay correlated well with the Roche CAP/CTM assay (R2 = 0.9379, P<0.01). The Abbott RealTime assay exhibited higher sensitivity for the detection of CMV viral load, and viral load values measured with Abbott RealTime assay were on average 0.76 log10 IU/mL higher than those measured with the Roche CAP/CTM assay (P<0.0001). Workflow analysis on a small batch size at one time, using the Roche CAP/CTM platform had a shorter hands-on time than the Abbott RealTime platform. In conclusion, these two assays can provide reliable data for different purpose in a clinical virology laboratory setting.

3. Molecular epidemiology of Echovirus 18 (Tsai et al, J Med Microbiol 60(9):1360-1365, 2011. figure on cover)

An outbreak of aseptic meningitis occurred in Taiwan from April to August 2006. We found that major isolates from the 2006 outbreak of aseptic meningitis in Taiwan were echovirus 18 (27.4%, 93 cases) and the case fatality rate among children was 4%. Phylogenetic analyses of the partial VP1 gene showed there is 3.7-23.8% variation in their sequences compared from the GenBank database, and two notable position changes were substitution in V152S or V152Q and deletion in Q158. These mutations resulted in an antigenic drift in the loop of VP 1 protein in three-dimensional structure. In conclusion, a new variant E18 was circulating and caused an outbreak of aseptic meningitis.

4. Genetic analysis of influenza virus (Tsai et al J Clin Microbiol 44: 2705-2713, 2006)

As another re-emergent virus, we also have analyzed the genetic and antigenic evolution of influenza B virus field strains isolated in Taiwan from 1998 to 2005. All influenza B viruses isolated between 1998 and 2000 belonged to the B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage. The B/Victoria/2/87 lineage, which was cocirculated with the Yamagata lineage, was identified in Taiwan in March 2001. Since 2002, genetic reassortants of influenza B virus with the Victoria lineage of hemagglutinin and the Yamagata lineage of neuraminidase have been found at a rate of 46%. Therefore, in 2002, at least three sublineages of influenza B virus strains, the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like strain (Yamagata lineage), the B/Hong Kong/330/01-like strain (Victoria lineage), and the B/Hong Kong/1351/02-like strain (B reassortant lineage), were identified in Taiwan. The results showed that genetically distinct lineages can cocirculate in the population and that the reassortment among these strains plays a role in generating the genetic diversity of influenza B viruses. Interestingly, from January to April 2005, B reassortant viruses became dominant (73%) in Taiwan, which indicated that a mismatch had occurred between the influenza B vaccine strain recommended for the 2004-2005 season in the Northern hemisphere by the World Health Organization and the epidemic strain.

5. Viral surveillance of respiratory viral infections (Tsai et al J Clin Microbiol 39: 111-8, 2001)

The study examined the association of specific virus infections with acute respiratory tract conditions among hospitalized and outpatient children in a subtropical country. A total of 2,295 virus infections were detected in 6,986 patients between 1997 and 1999, including infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (1.7%), parainfluenza virus (2.0%), influenza B virus (2.6%), adenovirus (4.0%), herpes simplex virus type 1 (4. 4%), influenza A virus (5.5%), and enterovirus (12.7%). There were 61 mixed infections, and no consistent seasonal variation was found. One or more viruses were detected among 24.8% of hospitalized patients and 35.0% of outpatients. The frequencies and profiles of detection of various viruses among in- and outpatients were different. The occurrence of enterovirus infections exceeded that of other viral infections detected in 1998 and 1999 due to outbreaks of enterovirus 71 and coxsackievirus A10. RSV was the most prevalent virus detected among hospitalized children, whereas influenza virus was the most frequently isolated virus in the outpatient group. Most respiratory viral infections (39.3%) occurred in children between 1 and 3 years old. RSV (P < 0.025) and influenza A virus (P < 0.05) infections were dominant in the male inpatient group. In addition, most pneumonia and bronchiolitis (48.4%) was caused by RSV among hospitalized children less than 6 months old. Adenovirus was the most common agent associated with pharyngitis and tonsilitis (45.5%). These data expand our understanding of the etiology of acute respiratory tract viral infections among in- and outpatients in a subtropical country and may contribute to the prevention and control of viral respiratory tract infections.



Click Num: