The role of a real-time PCR technology for rapid detection and identification of bacterial and fungal pathogens in whole-blood samples

Hideaki Obara, Naoki Aikawa, Naoki Hasegawa, Shingo Hori, Yasuo Ikeda, Yoshio Kobayashi, Mitsuru Murata, Shinichiro Okamoto, Junzo Takeda, Minoru Tanabe, Yasuhiko Sakakura, Hiroyuki Ginba, Masaki Kitajima, Yuko Kitagawa

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid diagnosis of pathogens and prompt initiation of appropriate antibiotic therapy are critical factors to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with sepsis. In this study, we evaluated a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR-M) test that detects bacteria and fungi in whole-blood specimens, comparing its features to those of a blood culture (BC). Following evaluation of the performance for sensitivity and specificity of PCR-M, 78 blood samples from 54 patients with suspected bacterial infections were evaluated. Whole-blood samples for PCR-M were collected at the same time as BC, and PCR-M results were compared with BC results. As a result, minimum sensitivity of the kit was 1-100 cfu/ml. The PCR-M test correctly identified specificity for 13 out of 14 strains blinded to the assay analyst. Of 78 blood samples examined, 56 (72%) were negative by both methods, and 22 (28%) were positive by at least one of the two methods. PCR-M detected organisms in 21 cases (27%) compared with 12 cases (15%) in BC. The correlation of positives between PCR-M and BC was 92% (11/12), and both methods identified the same organisms in these 11 cases. With higher positive rate compared with BC, PCR-M could detect and identify potentially significant microorganisms within a few hours by using a small volume of a single whole-blood sample. Early detection of microorganisms has the potential to facilitate early determination of appropriate treatment and antimicrobial selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-333
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infection and Chemotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun



  • Blood culture
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
  • Sepsis
  • Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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