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J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Aug;50(8):2585-91. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00523-12. Epub 2012 May 16.

A novel extraction method combining plasma with a whole-blood fraction shows excellent sensitivity and reproducibility for patients at high risk for invasive aspergillosis.

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Universität Würzburg, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik II, Würzburg, Germany.


Diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis (IA) is still a major problem in routine clinical practice. Early diagnosis is essential for a good patient prognosis. PCR is a highly sensitive method for the detection of nucleic acids and could play an important role in improving the diagnosis of fungal infections. Therefore, a novel DNA extraction method, ultraclean production (UCP), was developed allowing purification of both cellular and cell-free circulating fungal DNA. In this prospective study we evaluated the commercially available UCP extraction system and compared it to an in-house system. Sixty-three patients at high risk for IA were screened twice weekly, and DNA extracted by both methods was cross-analyzed, in triplicate, by two different real-time PCR assays. The negative predictive values were high for all methods (94.3 to 100%), qualifying them as screening methods, but the sensitivity and diagnostic odds ratios were higher using the UCP extraction method. Sensitivity ranged from 33.3 to 66.7% using the in-house extracts to 100% using the UCP extraction method. Most of the unclassified patients showed no positive PCR results; however, single-positive PCR replicates were observed in some cases. These can bear clinical relevance but should be interpreted with additional clinical and laboratory data. The PCR assays from the UCP extracts showed greater reproducibility than the in-house method for probable IA patients. The standardized UCP extraction method yielded superior results, with regard to sensitivity and reproducibility, than the in-house method. This was independent of the PCR assay used to detect fungal DNA in the sample extracts.

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