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J Clin Microbiol. 1994 May; 32(5): 1142–1147.
PMCID: PMC263625

Comparison of four commercially available rapid enzyme immunoassays with cytotoxin assay for detection of Clostridium difficile toxin(s) from stool specimens.


Rapid (2.5- to 3.5-h) enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) for the detection of Clostridium difficile toxins have been developed. We report the results of simultaneous testing of 700 fresh stool specimens by the tissue culture cytotoxin assay and four EIAs (Bartels Prima System C. difficile Toxin A EIA, Cambridge Biotech Cytoclone A+B EIA, Meridian Diagnostics Premier C. difficile Toxin A EIA, and TechLab C. difficile Tox-A Test EIA). In cases of disagreement, culturing for toxigenic C. difficile was performed. A total of 61 (8.7%) specimens from 46 patients were positive for C. difficile toxin. The sensitivity of the cytotoxin assay was 87%, and that of culture was 93%. In comparison with the cytotoxin assay results, the sensitivity and specificity of the EIAs were as follows: Bartels, 87 and 96%; Cambridge, 89 and 99%; Meridian, 87 and 98%; and TechLab, 87 and 95%, respectively. In comparison with the cytotoxin assay plus toxigenic culture results, the sensitivity and specificity of the EIAs were as follows: Bartels, 84 and 97%; Cambridge, 85 and 99%; Meridian, 79 and 98%; and TechLab, 80 and 96%, respectively. The EIAs varied in positive predictive values (PPVs). A high PPV was seen with the Cambridge EIA (96%); lower PPVs were seen with the TechLab (64%), Bartels (72%), and Meridian (80%) EIAs because of high false-positive rates. The negative predictive values (98 to 99%) were excellent with all EIAs. Results were indeterminant with 0.3% of the samples by the Meridian EIA and 3% by all the other EIAs. Although the EIAs were less sensitive than the cytotoxin assay, they provide same-day results and may be useful in laboratories without tissue culture facilities.

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