The automation of molecular techniques performed on a large scale is an important challenge in clinical virology. The QIAGEN workstation consisting of the QIAsymphony SP and AS modules that has been recently commercialised allows the successive achievement of nucleic acid purification from various samples (SP module) and the distribution of the extract combined with master mix in PCR tubes (AS module). This automated system has been recently evaluated for the detection of enteric pathogens in faecal samples
[11, 12] and the quantitation of hepatitis C viral load
. In addition, three other studies evaluated the QIAsymphony SP extraction module alone for Epstein-Barr virus
, HIV viral load
 and a panel of different viruses
In this study, we evaluated the QIAGEN workstation combined with the RGQ platform for the quantitation of CMV DNA with the CMV artus CMV QS-RGQ kit from 200 μl of whole blood. Different versions of this amplification kit have been shown to yield comparable results of CMV DNA load with other molecular techniques either in EDTA-plasma
[17, 18] or in whole blood
Regarding the extraction step, previous studies evaluated the QIAsymphony system for the quantitation of CMV DNA in blood under different configurations: Raggam et al.
 tested the QIAsymphony SP module in combination with the R-gene kit from 200 μl of whole blood; Miller et al.
 evaluated the same extraction module with the Roche kit from 1 ml of blood serum; finally, Forman et al.
 tested the same configuration as the one used in the present study but from a different matrix (1.2 ml of blood plasma). The limit of detection of these different methodologies was 148, 90, and 23 CMV DNA copies/ml, respectively; the value of 72 copies/ml obtained in the current study with the QIAsymphony RGQ system using a small volume (200 μl) of whole blood was very close to that of the three former studies and to that specified in the QIAGEN handbook of the kit (164.6 copies/ml). It was much lower than that mentioned for the R-gene technique in the manufacturer’s handbook but that had been obtained with a MagNA Pure Compact automate (555 copies/ml).
By reference to the strategy routinely used in our laboratory that we had previously evaluated favourably
, the QIAsymphony RGQ system was well correlated, despite a slight translation of CMV DNA loads to the benefit of the easyMAG/R-gene couple. By contrast, a better sensitivity was obtained with the QIAsymphony RGQ system for low positive samples as illustrated by the distribution of positive discrepant samples (11 for the QIAGEN platform and only 3 for the easyMAG/Argene method). Furthermore, the inter-assay and intra-assay variability was shown to be lower with the QIAsymphony RGQ system because of its complete automation, whereas the easyMAG/R-gene combination includes several manual steps (sample preparation, addition of magnetic silica, transfer of eluates into microtubes, preparation and distribution of PCR mix, calibrators and samples…).