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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 May;40(5):1644-7.

Evaluation of two nested PCR assays for detection of Histoplasma capsulatum DNA in human tissue.

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Institute for Tropical Medicine, University Hospital Tübingen, Keplerstrasse 15, 72074 Tübingen, Germany.


In order to evaluate the diagnostic relevance of two nested PCR assays for diagnosis of histoplasmosis in clinical specimens, 100 paraffin-embedded biopsy specimens were examined. Upon microscopy of tissue, 50 biopsy specimens were histoplasma positive and 50 were negative. Due to destruction by formalin fixation, successful extraction of amplifiable human DNA was limited to 29 and 33 samples, respectively. A product of the Histoplasma capsulatum nested PCR assay targeting the gene encoding the unique fungal 100-kDa-like protein was detected in 20 histopathologically positive biopsy specimens but in none of the microscopically negative samples. Sequencing revealed that all 20 products of 210 bp were identical to the sequence of H. capsulatum in the GenBank database. In contrast, the nested PCR assay targeting the fungal 18S rRNA genes amplified products in 26 histopathologically positive but also in 18 microscopically negative biopsy specimens. However, sequencing revealed that only 20 of these 44 PCR products (231 bp) were identical to the sequence of H. capsulatum. The remaining 24 sequences were homologous to those of several Euascomycetes. These PCR products were detected only in tissues possibly colonized by nonpathogenic fungi, possibly causing these nonspecific amplifications. The detection limit of both H. capsulatum nested PCR assays was 1 to 5 fungal cells per sample. The two assays were similarly sensitive in identifying H. capsulatum. In this preliminary study, the novel 100-kDa-like-protein gene nested PCR revealed a specificity of 100% without requiring sequencing, which was necessary for identification of the 18S ribosomal DNA nested PCR products in order to avoid a high rate of false-positive results.

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