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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Mar 1;54(5):601-9. doi: 10.1093/cid/cir859. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Use of a rapid test of pneumococcal colonization density to diagnose pneumococcal pneumonia.

Author information

1
Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. werner.albrich@ksa.ch

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is major need for a more sensitive assay for the diagnosis of pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). We hypothesized that pneumococcal nasopharyngeal (NP) proliferation may lead to microaspiration followed by pneumonia. We therefore tested a quantitative lytA real-time polymerase chain reaction (rtPCR) on NP swab samples from patients with pneumonia and controls.

METHODS:

In the absence of a sensitive reference standard, a composite diagnostic standard for pneumococcal pneumonia was considered positive in South African human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults hospitalized with radiographically confirmed CAP, if blood culture, induced good-quality sputum culture, Gram stain, or urinary Binax demonstrated pneumococci. Results of quantitative lytA rtPCR in NP swab samples were compared with quantitative colony counts in patients with CAP and 300 HIV-infected asymptomatic controls.

RESULTS:

Pneumococci were the leading pathogen identified in 76 of 280 patients with CAP (27.1%) using the composite diagnostic standard. NP colonization density measured by lytA rtPCR correlated with quantitative cultures (r = 0.67; P < .001). The mean lytA rtPCR copy number in patients with pneumococcal pneumonia was 6.0 log(10) copies/mL, compared with patients with CAP outside the composite standard (2.7 log(10) copies/mL; P < .001) and asymptomatic controls (0.8 log(10) copies/mL; P < .001). A lytA rtPCR density ≥8000 copies/mL had a sensitivity of 82.2% and a specificity of 92.0% for distinguishing pneumococcal CAP from asymptomatic colonization. The proportion of CAP cases attributable to pneumococcus increased from 27.1% to 52.5% using that cutoff.

CONCLUSIONS:

A rapid molecular assay of NP pneumococcal density performed on an easily available specimen may significantly increase pneumococcal pneumonia diagnoses in adults.

PMID:
22156852
PMCID:
PMC3275757
DOI:
10.1093/cid/cir859
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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