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Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2001 May;1(1):61-70.

Molecular typing methods for the epidemiological identification of Clostridium difficile strains.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious and Immunologic Diseases, University of California, Davis Medical Center, Patient Services and Support Building, Suite 500, 4150 V St., Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


Toxigenic Clostridium difficile is the etiologic agent of C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD), the most common cause of nosocomial diarrhea. Cross-infection between patients and transmission through the environment and medical personnel are important factors in the acquisition of CDAD. In order to understand differences in epidemiology and pathogenesis, a number of typing schemes have been developed. We will review the typing methods used to study the epidemiology of C. difficile infections and how they have evolved from a phenotypic identification to state of the art molecular methods, detecting genetic polymorphisms among strains. These molecular methods include PCR-based methods (arbitrarily primed-PCR [AP-PCR] and PCR ribotyping), restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) and pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The application, usefulness and feasibility of these methods are compared and discussed. Finally, the role of genomics as a tool to investigate CDAD is introduced.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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