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Indian J Med Microbiol. 2002 Oct-Dec;20(4):183-6.

Pneumolysin in urine: a rapid antigen detection method to diagnose pneumococcal pneumonia in children.

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Department of Microbiology, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal.



Etiological diagnosis of pneumococcal pneumonia is difficult in small children in whom blood culture cannot be done or who have already been started on antibiotics. A simple technique which can be applied at the bedside or in the outpatient department may help in obviating this problem. Detection of pneumolysin, a product of invasive pneumococci is being exploited as a diagnostic tool.


An attempt was made to detect this protein in urine of seventy children, clinically suspected and radiologically diagnosed cases of pneumonia. Seventy age and sex matched controls were included in the study. Purified pneumolysin was prepared from clinical isolates of invasive pneumococcal infections. This was used to raise polyclonal antisera in rabbits. The antisera was used to sensitise Cowan 1 Staphylococcus aureus (CoA). A slide agglutination was performed with 25 microL urine and equal quantity of the reagent.


Results were compared with CoA reagent sensitised with antisera raised against a genetically derived pneumolysoid and capsular polysaccharide for antigen detection in the urine. Pneumolysin could be detected in 42.9% (30/70) urine samples from cases with pneumonia by the genetically derived antigen and in 37.1% samples by the in house prepared antigen, in contrast to 2.1% in healthy controls and 4.2% in children with infections other than pneumonia. The result was statistically significant. Detection of pneumolysin was slightly better than detection of capsular polysaccharide antigen in urine although the result was not statistically significant. Blood culture proved to be positive in only 29.5% cases.


Pneumolysin detection in urine showed promising results and was found to be simple and rapid. It will help in quickening the diagnosis of pneumococcal pneumonia.

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