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J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Aug;51(8):2556-63. doi: 10.1128/JCM.03458-12. Epub 2013 May 29.

Multicentric evaluation of a new real-time PCR assay for quantification of Cryptosporidium spp. and identification of Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis.

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Aix-Marseille Université, Faculté de Médecine, UMR MD3, and APHM, Hôpital de la Timone, Laboratoire de Parasitologie-Mycologie, Marseille, France.


Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite responsible for gastroenteritis, especially in immunocompromised patients. Laboratory diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis relies on microscopy, antigen detection, and nucleic acid detection and analysis. Among the numerous molecular targets available, the 18S rRNA gene displays the best sensitivity and sequence variations between species and can be used for molecular typing assays. This paper presents a new real-time PCR assay for the detection and quantification of all Cryptosporidium species associated with the identification of Cryptosporidium hominis and Cryptosporidium parvum. The sensitivity and specificity of this new PCR assay were assessed on a multicentric basis, using well-characterized Cryptosporidium-positive and -negative human stool samples, and the efficiencies of nine extraction methods were comparatively assessed using Cryptosporidium-seeded stool samples and phosphate-buffered saline samples. A comparison of extraction yields showed that the most efficient extraction method was the Boom technique in association with mechanical grinding, and column extraction showed higher binding capacity than extraction methods based on magnetic silica. Our PCR assay was able to quantify at least 300 oocysts per gram of stool. Satisfactory reproducibility between laboratories was observed. The two main species causing human disease, Cryptosporidium hominis and Cryptosporidium parvum, were identified using a duplex real-time PCR assay with specific TaqMan minor-groove-binding ligand (MGB) probes for the same amplicon. To conclude, this one-step quantitative PCR is well suited to the routine diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis since practical conditions, including DNA extraction, quantification using well-defined standards, and identification of the two main species infecting humans, have been positively assessed.

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