A PCR-based assay was developed to amplify a conserved region of the pneumococcal autolysin gene. The amplified product was labelled with digoxigenin-labelled dUTP and was detected with a biotin-labelled probe in an enzyme immunoassay (EIA). The assay was initially tested with suspensions of various serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and was then applied to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens from patients with meningitis and those with other neurological disorders. The assay detected all the serotypes of S. pneumoniae tested, whereas all the other bacterial strains tested were negative. Seven of the 8 CSF specimens positive for pneumococcus by culture or latex agglutination (LA) were positive by PCR-EIA, whereas all 10 specimens positive for other organisms were negative. Among 11 patients with clinically diagnosed meningitis but with negative culture and LA results, 5 were positive by PCR- EIA. The assay was negative for all but one patient without meningitis; it was positive with the CSF from a child with immunodeficiency and pneumococcal abscesses on the scalp. PCR-EIA is a useful tool for the diagnosis of meningitis, especially when culture and LA are negative because of prior antibiotic treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)