Organic and inorganic compounds that inhibit PCR amplification of nucleic acids are common contaminants in DNA samples from various origins. These contaminating substances can interfere with the PCR at several levels, leading to different degrees of attenuation and even to complete inhibition. This constitutes an important problem for both research and clinical laboratories. A wide variety of PCR inhibitors have been reported and they appear to be particularly abundant in complex samples such as animal fluids and samples containing high bacterial concentrations. Most of these contaminants (polysac-charides, urea, humic acids, hemoglobin) exhibit similar solubility to DNA. As a consequence, they are not completely removed when typical extraction protocols are used in the preparation of template DNA (such as detergent, protease, and phenol-chloroform treatments). Several methods have been developed to avoid these contaminating substances. Some of these methods are simple but result in the loss of non-negligible amounts of the original sample, whereas others are very specific methods directed against specific forms of contaminant and might require expensive materials.
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