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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2011 Nov;30(11):1453-60. doi: 10.1007/s10096-011-1244-8. Epub 2011 Apr 10.

Reactivity of (1→3)-β-d-glucan assay in bacterial bloodstream infections.

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Laboratoire de Parasitologie Mycologie, CHU de Reims, Université Reims Champagne Ardenne, Hôpital Maison Blanche, 45 rue Cognacq Jay, 51092 Reims cedex, France.


To diagnose invasive fungal infections, the detection of (1 → 3)-β-d-glucan in serum has shown variable specificity, depending on the targeted population. Several circumstances for false-positive results of beta-glucan tests have been identified, among which are severe bacterial infections. In this study, we measured (1 → 3)-β-d-glucan by the Fungitell test in the serum of 62 patients (one serum sample tested per patient) for whom invasive fungal infection was not suspected: 19 control subjects and 43 patients with bacteraemia. The test was interpretable for 58 sera: all 19 control subjects had negative beta-glucan test; among the 39 bacteraemic patients, we report 16 false-positive results. For the 22 patients undergoing bacteraemia due to Gram-negative bacilli, we observed 13 false-positive results (59%). Among the 17 patients with bloodstream infection involving Gram-positive cocci, three false-positive tests were recorded, but none in the eight cases of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteraemia. Statistical analysis showed that beta-glucan levels were significantly higher in patients with Gram-negative bacilli bloodstream infection in comparison to those with bacteraemia due to Gram-positive cocci. These results were independent from other previously described causes for false-positive beta-glucan tests. These data might help physicians to interpret positive beta-glucan detection when an invasive fungal infection is suspected, especially for patients with bacterial infections.

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