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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Oct;35(10):2521-5.

Rapid method for testing susceptibility of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by using DNA probes.

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Servei de Microbiologia i Parasitologia, Ciutat Sanitària Universitària Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.


The increasing number of multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains has stimulated the interest of investigators in finding a rapid method for susceptibility testing. We used commercially available rRNA DNA-bioluminescence-labelled probes (Accu-Probe, Gen Probe, Inc. San Diego, Calif.) for this purpose. The study was performed in three chronological steps. (i) We studied the correlation between the photometric light units (PLUs) given by the hybridization method, the numbers of CFU per milliliter, and turbidity as nephelometric units for six different inocula of an M. tuberculosis strain over 14 days. A good correlation (c > 0.9; P < 0.05) was found from the third day for all concentrations used. (ii) Over a period of 14 days we studied the evolution of the PLUs for 20 strains growing in medium with 0.2 microl of isoniazid (H) per ml and 18 strains in medium with 1 microl of rifampin (R) per ml to standardize the method. Susceptible and resistant strains were used according to the reference proportions method in Middlebrook 7H10, and the MICs were determined in solid and liquid media. The final inoculum of a 10(-2) dilution from a McFarland no. 1 standard and reading at 3 and 5 days provided the best results. A quotient was established to find a cutoff point between resistant and susceptible strains. (iii) We used the standardized parameters in 117 tests with H and R. On day 3, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value for detecting resistant strains were 86.8, 100, 100, and 90.1%, respectively, and on day 5 they were 96.2, 100, 100, and 94%, respectively. We concluded that the method is readily available, is easy to perform, and could be useful for screening resistant M. tuberculosis strains.

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