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J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Oct;47(10):3308-12. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01071-09. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Streptococcus pneumoniae DNA load in blood as a marker of infection in patients with community-acquired pneumonia.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology & Infection Control, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Direct detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae DNA in blood adds to culture results in the etiological diagnosis of patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Quantification of the amount of DNA, the bacterial DNA load (BDL), provides a measurement of DNAemia that may increase the understanding of the clinical relevance of S. pneumoniae DNA in blood. We evaluated the S. pneumoniae BDL as a diagnostic tool in adult patients with CAP. The BDL was determined in whole-blood samples collected simultaneously with blood for culture from 45 adult patients with CAP. After DNA extraction, S. pneumoniae DNA was detected with specific real-time PCR amplification, and the BDL was calculated with a standard curve. PCR and microbiological results were compared, and the BDL was related to clinical and laboratory parameters. S. pneumoniae DNA was detected in 10/13 patients with positive blood cultures and in 67% of patients with microbiologically confirmed pneumococcal pneumonia. The positive predictive values of the receiver operating characteristic curves for the BDLs for pneumococcal infection (100%) and pneumococcal bacteremia (69%) were higher than those for the level of C-reactive protein (CRP; 43% and 23%, respectively) and the white blood cell count (WBC; 42% and 35%, respectively); the negative predictive values of these three parameters were in the same range (+/-90 and +/-97%, respectively). The BDL was higher in patients presenting with systemic inflammatory response syndrome and in patients with bacteremia. Positive correlations were observed for the BDL with WBC, CRP level, and length of stay. We conclude that the BDL supports the diagnosis of S. pneumoniae infection in patients with CAP and provides a putative marker of the severity of disease.

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