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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) poses an infection risk for international military deployments. In the presented mini-review, the history of MRSA in the medical service and modern warfare is highlighted. To allow rapid diagnosis, various molecular diagnostic point-of-care solutions are available. Most evaluation studies, however, are focused on screening swabs rather than clinical materials and evaluation data from harsh environments are widely lacking. Accordingly, studies with complex sample materials under difficult environmental conditions, e.g., in the desert or in the tropics, are desirable to close this gap of knowledge regarding the diagnostic reliability of such modern molecular point-of-care devices.

Open access

ESBL (extended-spectrum-β-lactamase)-positive Enterobacteriaceae, which colonized European soldiers in tropical Western African Mali, were subjected to a molecular assessment of their resistance determinants. By doing so, a better insight into the locally endemic pattern of ESBL-associated β-lactamase genes was aspired.

From a previous study on diarrhea in European soldiers on deployment in tropical Mali, 15 ESBL-positive Escherichia coli with demonstrated high clonal diversity and one positive Klebsiella pneumoniae were assessed. Polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) for blaTEM and blaSHV β-lactamase genes with subsequent sequencing for the discrimination of ESBL- and non-ESBL variants were performed, followed by four group-specific PCRs for blaCTX-M genes.

Non-ESBL-associated blaTEM-1 was identified in six out of 15 (40%) E. coli strains, while 100% of the assessed strains were positive for group I blaCTX-M.

Considering the known clonal diversity of the assessed strains, the striking restriction to one group of blaCTX-M genes accounting for the ESBL phenotypes of the isolates suggests little genetic exchange in the local setting. Under such circumstances of restricted numbers of locally endemic target genes, PCR-based screening approaches for ESBL colonization might be promising.

Open access

Here, we assessed the extraction efficiency of a deployable bench-top nucleic acid extractor EZ1 in comparison to the column-based approach with complex sample matrices.A total of 48 EDTA blood samples and 81 stool samples were extracted by EZ1 automated extraction and the column-based QIAamp DNA Mini Kit. Blood sample extractions were assessed by two real-time malaria PCRs, while stool samples were analyzed by six multiplex real-time PCR assays targeting bacterial, viral, and parasitic stool pathogens. Inhibition control PCR testing was performed as well.In total, 147 concordant and 13 discordant pathogen-specific PCR results were obtained. The latter comprised 11 positive results after column-based extraction only and two positive results after EZ1 extraction only. EZ1 extraction showed a higher frequency of inhibition. This phenomenon was, however, inconsistent for the different PCR schemes. In case of concordant PCR results, relevant differences of cycle threshold numbers for the compared extraction schemes were not observed.Switches from well-established column-based extraction to extraction with the automated EZ1 system do not lead to a relevantly reduced yield of target DNA when complex sample matrices are used. If sample inhibition is observed, column-based extraction from another sample aliquot may be considered.

Open access

We compared the performance of an in-house and a commercial malaria polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay using freeze–thawed hemolytic blood samples.

A total of 116 freeze–thawed ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) blood samples of patients with suspicion of malaria were analyzed by an in-house as well as by a commercially available real-time PCR.

Concordant malaria negative PCR results were reported for 39 samples and malaria-positive PCR results for 67 samples. The inhouse assay further detected one case of Plasmodium falciparum infection, which was negative in the commercial assay as well as five cases of P. falciparum malaria and three cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria, which showed sample inhibition in the commercial assay. The commercial malaria assay was positive in spite of a negative in-house PCR result in one case. In all concordant results, cycle threshold values of P. falciparum-positive samples were lower in the commercial PCR than in the in-house assay.

Although Ct values of the commercial PCR kit suggest higher sensitivity in case of concordant results, it is prone to inhibition if it is applied to hemolytic freeze–thawed blood samples. The number of misidentifications was, however, identical for both real-time PCR assays.

Open access

The extraction and further processing of nucleic acids (NA) from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues for microbiological diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approaches is challenging. Here, we assessed the effects of five different commercially available nucleic acid extraction kits on the results of real-time PCR.

FFPE samples from organs of Burkholderia pseudomallei-infected Swiss mice were subjected to processing with five different extraction kits from QIAGEN (FFPE DNA Tissue Kit, EZ1 DNA Tissue Kit, DNA Mini Kit, DNA Blood Mini Kit, and FlexiGene DNA Kit) in combination with three different real-time PCRs targeting B. pseudomallei-specific sequences of varying length after 16 years of storage.

The EZ1 DNA Tissue Kit and the DNA Mini Kit scored best regarding the numbers of successful PCR reactions. In case of positive PCR, differences regarding the cycle-threshold (Ct) values were marginal.

The impact of the applied extraction kits on the reliability of PCR from FFPE material seems to be low. Interfering factors like the quality of the dewaxing procedure or the sample age appear more important than the selection of specialized FFPE kits.

Open access

This study assessed the variation of phenotypic features of clinical isolates of Burkholderia spp. from common rpsU gene sequence clusters.

A total of 41 clinical Burkholderia spp. isolates from German mucoviscidosis patients was subjected to rpsU gene sequencing. Biochemical assessment included the API systems 20 NE and 50 CHE as well as the Micronaut NF system. Fatty acid patterns were assessed using gas chromatography—mass spectrometry (GC—MS). Broth microdilution was used to identify minimum inhibitory concentrations.

Five rpsU gene sequence clusters comprised more than one clinical isolate. Altogether, assignments to three species and seven clusters comprising more than one Burkholderia species were performed. Inhomogeneity of biochemical reactions within the clusters ranged from 0/28 to 45/50 reactions. The standard deviation for fatty acid distributions ranged from 0% to 11.5%. Minimum inhibitory concentrations within the clusters showed a wide variation but only minor differences between the clusters.

Broad variations within identified rpsU gene sequence clusters regarding biochemical reactions, fatty acid patterns, and resistance patterns of clinical Burkholderia spp. isolates make the application of rpsU gene sequence analysis as a stand-alone procedure for discriminations within the Burkholderia cepacia complex unreliable.

Open access

Discrimination of Burkholderia (B.) pseudomallei and B. mallei from environmental B. thailandensis is challenging. We describe a discrimination method based on sequence comparison of the ribosomal protein S21 (rpsU) gene.The rpsU gene was sequenced in ten B. pseudomallei, six B. mallei, one B. thailandensis reference strains, six isolates of B. pseudomallei, and 37 of B. thailandensis. Further rpsU sequences of six B. pseudomallei, three B. mallei, and one B. thailandensis were identified via NCBI GenBank. Three to four variable base-positions were identified within a 120-base-pair fragment, allowing discrimination of the B. pseudomallei/mallei-cluster from B. thailandensis, whose sequences clustered identically. All B. mallei and three B. pseudomallei sequences were identical, while 17/22 B. pseudomallei strains differed in one nucleotide (78A>C). Sequences of the rpsU fragment of ‘out-stander’ reference strains of B. cepacia, B. gladioli, B. plantarii, and B. vietnamensis clustered differently.Sequence comparison of the described rpsU gene fragment can be used as a supplementary diagnostic procedure for the discrimination of B. mallei/pseudomallei from B. thailandensis as well as from other species of the genus Burkholderia, keeping in mind that it does not allow for a differentiation between B. mallei and B. pseudomallei.

Open access

Haemophilus influenzae is a key pathogen of upper respiratory tract infections. Its reliable discrimination from nonpathogenic Haemophilus spp. is necessary because merely colonizing bacteria are frequent at primarily unsterile sites. Due to close phylogenetic relationship, it is not easy to discriminate H. influenzae from the colonizer Haemophilus haemolyticus. The frequency of H. haemolyticus isolations depends on factors like sampling site, patient condition, and geographic region.Biochemical discrimination has been shown to be nonreliable. Multiplex PCR including marker genes like sodC, fucK, and hpd or sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, the P6 gene, or multilocus-sequence-typing is more promising. For the diagnostic routine, such techniques are too expensive and laborious. If available, matrix-assisted laser-desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry is a routine-compatible option and should be used in the first line. However, the used database should contain well-defined reference spectra, and the spectral difference between H. influenzae and H. haemolyticus is small. Fluorescence in-situ hybridization is an option for less well-equipped laboratories, but the available protocol will not lead to conclusive results in all instances. It can be used as a second line approach. Occasional ambiguous results have to be resolved by alternative molecular methods like 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

Open access
Authors: Hagen Frickmann, Caroline Klenk, Philipp Warnke, Sylvio Redanz and Andreas Podbielski

Background: The effects of cell-free culture supernatants of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Streptococcus salivarius K12 on replication and biofilm forming of Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermidis were assessed in vitro.

Methods: S. aureus and S. epidermidis strains were exposed to cell-free culture supernatants of L. rhamnosus GG and S. salivarius K12 at different concentrations starting at 0, 4, and 24 h after the onset of incubation. Bacterial amplification was measured on microplate readers, as well as biofilm growth after safranine staining. Scanning electron microscopy was performed for visualization of biofilm status.

Results: The S. salivarius K12 culture supernatant not only reduced or prevented the formation and maturation of fresh biofilms but even caused a reduction of preformed S. epidermidis biofilms. The L. rhamnosus GG culture supernatant did not show clear inhibitory effects regardless of concentration or time of addition of supernatant, and even concentration-depending promotional effects on the planktonic and biofilm growth of S. aureus and S. epidermidis were observed.

Conclusion: In particular, the inhibitory effects of the S. salivarius K12 culture supernatant on the formation of staphylococcal biofilms are of potential relevance for biofilm-associated diseases and should be further assessed by in vivo infection models.

Open access
Authors: Annalena Reitz, Sven Poppert, Melanie Rieker and Hagen Frickmann

Background: The study assessed a spectrum of previously published in-house fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) probes in a combined approach regarding their diagnostic performance with incubated blood culture materials.

Methods: Within a two-year interval, positive blood culture materials were assessed with Gram and FISH staining. Previously described and new FISH probes were combined to panels for Gram-positive cocci in grape-like clusters and in chains, as well as for Gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria. Covered pathogens comprised Staphylococcus spp., such as S. aureus, Micrococcus spp., Enterococcus spp., including E. faecium, E. faecalis, and E. gallinarum, Streptococcus spp., like S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, and S. pneumoniae, Enterobacteriaceae, such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Bacteroides spp.

Results: A total of 955 blood culture materials were assessed with FISH. In 21 (2.2%) instances, FISH reaction led to non-interpretable results. With few exemptions, the tested FISH probes showed acceptable test characteristics even in the routine setting, with a sensitivity ranging from 28.6% (Bacteroides spp.) to 100% (6 probes) and a specificity of >95% in all instances.

Conclusion: If sophisticated rapid diagnostic methods like mass spectrometry from blood culture materials are not available, FISH provides an option for rapid differentiation for laboratories in resource-limited settings.

Open access