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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2010 Feb;65(2):249-51. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkp431. Epub 2009 Dec 8.

Cloverleaf test (modified Hodge test) for detecting carbapenemase production in Klebsiella pneumoniae: be aware of false positive results.

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Laboratório ALERTA, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of carbapenemases in a Klebsiella pneumoniae collection and the performance of the modified Hodge test (MHT) to correctly identify this phenotype.


Twenty-eight K. pneumoniae clinical isolates with reduced susceptibility to carbapenems were evaluated. Antimicrobial susceptibility and molecular typing were performed by agar dilution and PFGE, respectively. The MHT was performed using both standard and high inoculum of test organisms. Imipenem hydrolysis was investigated by spectrophotometric assays and carbapenemase-encoding genes were identified by PCR and amplicon sequencing. Porin loss was investigated by both PCR and SDS-PAGE.


Susceptibility rates for imipenem, meropenem and ertapenem were 93%, 57% and 11%, respectively. The PFGE analysis showed seven unrelated genotypes. By testing standard inoculum and ertapenem or meropenem discs, 25% (n = 7) and 21% (n = 6) of the isolates were classified as carbapenemase producers, respectively. When a higher inoculum was employed, these rates increased to 54% (n = 15) and 43% (n = 12), respectively. No imipenem hydrolysis was detected. PCRs identified bla(CTX-M) in 27 (96%) isolates, of which 2 isolates also carried bla(GES-1.) SDS-PAGE and PCR assays revealed that all isolates had lost at least one outer membrane protein, except for a single isolate that was found to express both OmpK35 and OmpK36.


False detection of carbapenemase production was observed by the MHT possibly as a result of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production coupled with porin loss as reported before. Clinical laboratories must be aware of this fact, especially in geographical areas where ESBL-producing isolates are highly prevalent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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