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Infect Genet Evol. 2012 Mar;12(2):345-9. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2012.01.002. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Identification of Acinetobacter species: is Bruker biotyper MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry a good alternative to molecular techniques?

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Department of Clinical Microbiology, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Acinetobacter spp. has become a leading cause of nosocomial infection in recent years. Phenotypic similarities between the species in the genus have made it difficult to identify them clearly using routine diagnostic methods. Consequently, more relevant species have been grouped together as Acinetobacter calcoaceticus-Acinetobacter baumannii complex (A. baumannii, A. calcoaceticus, Acinetobacter genospecies 3 and A. genospecies 13TU). However, there are other species that may also have clinical significance. The aims of this study were to establish the usefulness of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for the identification of Acinetobacter species by comparison with two molecular techniques, as well as determine the role of species other than A. baumannii play in nosocomial infections.The study sample comprised 109 clinical isolates of Acinetobacter. They were all identified using MALDI-TOF MS. Thirty-one isolates of these were also tested using comparator amplification of bla(OXA51-like) and sequencing of the rpoB gene. Different score values in MALDI-TOF MS revealed 87 A. baumannii, 19 A. genospecies 3, 1 Acinetobacter junii, 1 Acinetobacter baylyi and 1 Acinetobacter tjernbergiae. Amplification of bla(OXA-51)(-like) showed products in 85 isolates. Sequencing of the rpoB gene allowed us to identify all the 31 isolates analyzed: 16 were consistent with the results of spectrometry and 15 were not. This work showed that molecular techniques are still needed to identify the different species of clinical interest within the genus Acinetobacter. Although, MALDI-TOF MS could be useful to identify A. baumannii but not other species in the genus.

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