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J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Sep;53(9):2854-60. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00777-15. Epub 2015 Jun 24.

Comparison of Established Diagnostic Methodologies and a Novel Bacterial smpB Real-Time PCR Assay for Specific Detection of Haemophilus influenzae Isolates Associated with Respiratory Tract Infections.

Author information

Nucleic Acid Diagnostics Research Laboratory (NADRL), Microbiology, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
Centre for Clinical Microbiology, Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Medical Microbiology, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom.
Nucleic Acid Diagnostics Research Laboratory (NADRL), Microbiology, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland


Haemophilus influenzae is a significant causative agent of respiratory tract infections (RTI) worldwide. The development of a rapid H. influenzae diagnostic assay that would allow for the implementation of infection control measures and also improve antimicrobial stewardship for patients is required. A number of nucleic acid diagnostics approaches that detect H. influenzae in RTIs have been described in the literature; however, there are reported specificity and sensitivity limitations for these assays. In this study, a novel real-time PCR diagnostic assay targeting the smpB gene was designed to detect all serogroups of H. influenzae. The assay was validated using a panel of well-characterized Haemophilus spp. Subsequently, 44 Haemophilus clinical isolates were collected, and 36 isolates were identified as H. influenzae using a gold standard methodology that combined the results of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and a fucK diagnostic assay. Using the novel smpB diagnostic assay, 100% concordance was observed with the gold standard, demonstrating a sensitivity of 100% (95% confidence interval [CI], 90.26% to 100.00%) and a specificity of 100% (95% CI, 63.06% to 100.00%) when used on clinical isolates. To demonstrate the clinical utility of the diagnostic assay presented, a panel of lower RTI samples (n = 98) were blindly tested with the gold standard and smpB diagnostic assays. The results generated were concordant for 94/98 samples tested, demonstrating a sensitivity of 90.91% (95% CI, 78.33% to 97.47%) and a specificity of 100% (95% CI, 93.40% to 100.00%) for the novel smpB assay when used directly on respiratory specimens.

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