Use of quantitative broad-based polymerase chain reaction for detection and identification of common bacterial pathogens in cerebrospinal fluid

Richard Rothman, Padmini Ramachandran, Samuel Yang, Andrew Hardick, Helen Won, Aleksandar Kecojevic, Celeste Quianzon, Yu Hsiang Hsieh, Charlotte Gaydos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Conventional laboratory diagnosis of bacterial meningitis based on microscopy followed by culture is time-consuming and has only moderate sensitivity. Objectives: The objective was to define the limit of detection (LOD), analytic specificity, and performance characteristics of a broad-based quantitative multiprobe polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for rapid bacterial detection and simultaneous pathogen-specific identification in patients with suspected meningitis. Methods: A PCR algorithm consisting of initial broad-based detection of Eubacteriales by a universal probe, followed by pathogen identification using either pathogen-specific probes or Gram-typing probes, was employed to detect pathogens. The 16S rRNA gene, which contains both conserved and variable regions, was chosen as the target. Pathogen-specific probes were designed for Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes. Gram-positive and-negative typing probes were designed based on conserved regions across all eubacteria. The LOD and time to detection were assessed by dilutional mocked-up samples. A total of 108 convenience cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) clinical samples obtained from the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) microbiology laboratory were tested, and results were compared with hospital microbiologic culture reports. Results: The LOD of the assay ranged from 10 1 to 10 2 colony-forming units (CFU)/mL. Pathogen-specific probes showed no cross-reactivity with other organisms. Time to detection was 3 hours. In clinical specimens, the universal probe correctly detected 16 of 22 culture-positive clinical specimens (sensitivity = 72.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 49.8% to 89.3%), which were all correctly characterized by either pathogen-specific or Gram-typing probes. Adjusted sensitivity after removing probable microbiologic laboratory contaminants was 88.9% (95% CI = 65.3% to 98.6%). The universal probe was negative for 86 of 86 culture-negative specimens. Conclusions: A broad-based multiprobe PCR assay demonstrated strong analytic performance characteristics. Findings from a pilot clinical study showed promise in translation to human subjects, supporting potential utility of the assay as an adjunct to traditional diagnostics for early identification of bacterial meningitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-747
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Volume17
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Keywords

  • Meningitis
  • PCR
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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