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J Microbiol Methods. 2003 Aug;54(2):233-8.

Detection of Chlamydia suis from clinical specimens: comparison of PCR, antigen ELISA, and culture.

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Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals (BFAV), Institute for Molecular Pathogenesis, Naumburger Str. 96a, 07743, Jena, Germany.


Cell culture is still widely regarded as the gold standard in chlamydial diagnosis despite its well-known limitations in terms of sensitivity. On the other hand, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has emerged as a promising alternative because of rapidity and high sensitivity. However, validation of methodologies is required before the issue of standardization can be addressed. In the present study, 109 clinical samples (organ tissue, nasal, and faecal swabs) from pigs experimentally infected with Chlamydia suis were examined by cell culture, nested PCR in the ompA gene region, and two different antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) in order to compare the diagnostic performance of these methods. Culture and PCR produced the highest proportion of concordant results (kappa coefficient 0.712). Among 99 samples, 34 were positive in both assays, 51 were negative in both assays, 12 culture-negatives were positive in PCR, and only 2 culture-positives were negative in PCR. Thus, the sensitivity and specificity of PCR vs. culture as standard were 94.4% and 81.0%, respectively, whereas the corresponding values for culture vs. PCR as standard were 73.9% and 96.2%, respectively. Both ELISA tests performed considerably weaker. The data underline the potential of PCR as a powerful detection method for chlamydiae.

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