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J Clin Microbiol. 2018 Jan 24;56(2). pii: e01492-17. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01492-17. Print 2018 Feb.

Pathogen Identification by Multiplex LightMix Real-Time PCR Assay in Patients with Meningitis and Culture-Negative Cerebrospinal Fluid Specimens.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Graz, Austria.
Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


Acute bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency, and delays in initiating effective antimicrobial therapy result in increased morbidity and mortality. Culture-based methods, thus far considered the "gold standard" for identifying bacterial microorganisms, require 24 to 48 h to provide a diagnosis. In addition, antimicrobial therapy is often started prior to clinical sample collection, thereby decreasing the probability of confirming the bacterial pathogen by culture-based methods. To enable a fast and accurate detection of the most important bacterial pathogens causing meningitis, namely, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus agalactiae, and Listeria monocytogenes, we evaluated a commercially available multiplex LightMix real-time PCR (RT-PCR) in 220 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens. The majority of CSF samples were collected by lumbar puncture, but we also included some CSF samples from patients with symptoms of meningitis from the neurology department that were recovered from shunts. CSF samples were analyzed by multiplex RT-PCR enabling a first diagnosis within a few hours after sample arrival at our institute. In contrast, bacterial identification took between 24 and 48 h by culture. Overall, a high agreement of bacterial identification between culture and multiplex RT-PCR was observed (99%). Moreover, multiplex RT-PCR enabled the detection of pathogens, S. pneumoniae (n = 2), S. agalactiae (n = 1), and N. meningitidis (n = 1), in four culture-negative samples. As a complement to classical bacteriological CSF culture, the LightMix RT-PCR assay proved to be valuable by improving the rapidity and accuracy of the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis.


LightMix kit; bacterial pathogens; meningitis; molecular detection; multiplex RT-PCR

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