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Microbiol Res. 2002;157(2):77-82.

Polymerase chain reaction as a sensitive and rapid method for specific detection of Mycoplasma pneumoniae in clinical samples.

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Department of Biotechnology, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Safat.


The fast diagnosis of Mycoplasma primary atypical pneumonia is impaired by the lack of routinely available culture methods for isolation of Mycoplasma pneumoniae from clinical specimens. Likewise, serological methods commonly used for diagnosis are insensitive and non-specific. In this study, we have established and applied the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to detect M. pneumoniae DNA in clinical samples originating from the respiratory tract. The PCR results were compared with those from culture and serology tests. To standardize the detection of M. pneumoniae by PCR, we first used DNA from culture grown organisms and clinical samples seeded with M. pneumoniae. PCR amplification was performed with M. pneumoniae-specific primers to amplify 144, 153 and 631 bp DNA fragments by using primer pairs MP5-1/MP5-2, P1-178/P1-331 and P1-178/P1-809, respectively. The amplification of the 631 bp DNA fragment was found to be most sensitive for the detection of M. pneumoniae. Using the most sensitive PCR, a total of 47 respiratory specimens from patients suspected of community acquired pneumonia were tested. While none of the specimens were positive for M. pneumoniae in culture, 6 specimens gave positive results by PCR. In 4 out of the 5 PCR positive samples tested serologically, the results were supported by elevated levels of anti-mycoplasma IgG/IgM/IgA. Thus, these results suggest that PCR is the most sensitive method to detect M. pneumoniae in clinical specimens.

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