In July 2010, we identified an outbreak of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in our 26-bed neonatal intensive care unit. We performed an epidemiological investigation after clinical cultures of 2 neonates were positive for VRE. Identification, susceptibility testing, and molecular characterization were performed. Cultures of 3 surveillance stool samples of inpatients and 5 environmental samples were positive for VRE. All isolates were identified as Enterococcus faecium containing the vanA gene. Two distinct clones were identified by performing pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The 2 clones exhibited different pulsotypes, but they represented identical Tn1546 types. Two sequence types, ST18 and ST192, were identified among all of the isolates with multilocus sequence typing. Our investigation determined that the outbreak in the neonatal intensive care unit was caused by 2 genetically different clones. The outbreak may have occurred through clonal spread and horizontal transfer of the van gene.
Enterococcus; Disease outbreak; Neonatal intensive care unit
For many years, the clinical laboratory's focus on analytical quality has resulted in an error rate of 4-5 sigma, which surpasses most other areas in healthcare. However, greater appreciation of the prevalence of errors in the pre- and post-analytical phases and their potential for patient harm has led to increasing requirements for laboratories to take greater responsibility for activities outside their immediate control. Accreditation bodies such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) now require clear and effective procedures for patient/sample identification and communication of critical results. There are a variety of free on-line resources available to aid in managing the extra-analytical phase and the recent publication of quality indicators and proposed performance levels by the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) working group on laboratory errors and patient safety provides particularly useful benchmarking data. Managing the extra-laboratory phase of the total testing cycle is the next challenge for laboratory medicine. By building on its existing quality management expertise, quantitative scientific background and familiarity with information technology, the clinical laboratory is well suited to play a greater role in reducing errors and improving patient safety outside the confines of the laboratory.
Specimen handling; Laboratories; Quality assurance; Healthcare; Diagnostic errors; Risk management
Hepatitis B remains the most common transfusion-transmitted viral infection. We explored the current status of pre-transfusion screening and post-transfusion follow-up testing for hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibodies (anti-HBs) in blood recipients from an area of high HBV endemicity.
A total of 7,780 blood recipients were transfused with at least 1 unit of blood component at a single university hospital in Korea between January 2006 and December 2009. Their medical records were reviewed, and their demographic and transfusion-related data were analyzed.
Pre-transfusion HBsAg and anti-HBs levels were tested in 77.6% (6,037/7,780) of the recipients. The results varied widely according to recipient age. In all, 32.8% (1,982/6,037) of the recipients who were tested had dual negative pre-transfusion results for HBsAg and anti-HBs and, therefore, were at increased risk of HBV transmission. Post-transfusion follow-up testing for HBsAg and/or anti-HBs was performed in 22% (436/1,982) of the increased-risk group.
Our data show that current transfusion-related laboratory testing practice is not sufficient to properly investigate possible post-transfusion infections. Routine laboratory tests, including HBsAg and anti-HBs, should be recommended in transfusion guidelines.
Hepatitis B virus; Transmission; Transfusion; Recipients; Test
We herein report a case in which the recently characterized species Mycobacterium monacense was isolated from the sputum of an Iranian patient. This case represents the first isolation of M. monacense from Iran. The isolate was identified by conventional and molecular techniques. Our findings show that M. monacense infection is not restricted to developed countries.
Mycobacterium; hsp65; 16S rDNA; rpoB gene; Ribosomal spacer
Bacterial meningitis is an infectious disease with high rates of mortality and high frequency of severe sequelae. Early identification of causative bacterial and viral pathogens is important for prompt and proper treatment of meningitis and for prevention of life-threatening clinical outcomes. In the present study, we evaluated the value of the Seeplex Meningitis ACE Detection kit (Seegene Inc., Korea), a newly developed multiplex PCR kit employing dual priming oligonucleotide methods, for diagnosing acute meningitis.
Analytical sensitivity of the kit was studied using reference strains for each pathogen targeted by the kit, while it's analytical specificity was studied using the human genome DNA and 58 clinically well-identified reference strains. For clinical validation experiment, we used 27 control cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples and 78 clinical CSF samples collected from patients at the time of diagnosis of acute meningitis.
The lower detection limits ranged from 101 copies/µL to 5×101 copies/µL for the 12 viral and bacterial pathogens targeted. No cross-reaction was observed. In the validation study, high detection rate of 56.4% was obtained. None of the control samples tested positive, i.e., false-positive results were absent.
The Seeplex Meningitis ACE Detection kit showed high sensitivity, specificity, and detection rate for the identification of pathogens in clinical CSF samples. This kit may be useful for rapid identification of important acute meningitis-causing pathogens.
Meningitis; Multiplex PCR; Dual priming oligonucleotide
Narcolepsy is a neurologic disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, symptoms of abnormal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and a strong association with HLA-DRB1*1501, -DQA1*0102, and -DQB1*0602. Here, we investigated the clinico-physical characteristics of Korean patients with narcolepsy, their HLA types, and the clinical utility of high-resolution PCR with sequence-specific primers (PCR-SSP) as a simple typing method for identifying DRB1*15/16, DQA1, and DQB1 alleles.
The study population consisted of 67 consecutively enrolled patients having unexplained daytime sleepiness and diagnosed narcolepsy based on clinical and neurological findings. Clinical data and the results of the multiple sleep latency test and polysomnography were reviewed, and HLA typing was performed using both high-resolution PCR-SSP and sequence-based typing (SBT).
The 44 narcolepsy patients with cataplexy displayed significantly higher frequencies of DRB1*1501 (Pc= 0.003), DQA1*0102 (Pc=0.001), and DQB1*0602 (Pc=0.014) than the patients without cataplexy. Among patients carrying DRB1*1501-DQB1*0602 or DQA1*0102, the frequencies of a mean REM sleep latency of less than 20 min in nocturnal polysomnography and clinical findings, including sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucination were significantly higher. SBT and PCR-SSP showed 100% concordance for high-resolution typing of DRB1*15/16 alleles and DQA1 and DQB1 loci.
The clinical characteristics and somnographic findings of narcolepsy patients were associated with specific HLA alleles, including DRB1*1501, DQA1*0102, and DQB1*0602. Application of high-resolution PCR-SSP, a reliable and simple method, for both allele- and locus-specific HLA typing of DRB1*15/16, DQA1, and DQB1 would be useful for characterizing clinical status among subjects with narcolepsy.
HLA; Genotype; Narcolepsy; Cataplexy
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia has emerged as an important opportunistic pathogen, which causes infections that are often difficult to manage because of the inherent resistance of the pathogen to a variety of antimicrobial agents. In this study, we analyzed the expressions of smeABC and smeDEF and their correlation with antimicrobial susceptibility. We also evaluated the genetic relatedness and epidemiological links among 33 isolates of S. maltophilia.
In total, 33 S. maltophilia strains were isolated from patients in a tertiary hospital in Daejeon. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of 11 antimicrobial agents were determined by using agar dilution method and E-test (BioMérieux, France). Real-time PCR analysis was performed to evaluate the expression of the Sme efflux systems in the S. maltophilia isolates. Additionally, an epidemiological investigation was performed using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) assays.
The findings of susceptibility testing showed that the majority of the S. maltophilia isolates were resistant to β-lactams and aminoglycosides. Twenty-one clinical isolates overexpressed smeABC and showed high resistance to ciprofloxacin. Moreover, a high degree of genetic diversity was observed among the S. maltophilia isolates; 3 sequence types (STs) and 23 allelic profiles were observed.
The smeABC efflux pump was associated with multidrug resistance in clinical isolates of S. maltophilia. In particular, smeABC efflux pumps appear to perform an important role in ciprofloxacin resistance of S. maltophilia. The MLST scheme for S. maltophilia represents a discriminatory typing method with stable markers and is appropriate for studying population structures.
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia; smeABC; smeDEF; Efflux pump; MLST
Introduction of the Luminex panel reactive antibody (PRA)-single antigen (SA) assay has increased the detection rates of unacceptable antigens in sensitized patients; the calculated PRA (CPRA) level represents the percentage of actual organ donors that express 1 or more of these unacceptable antigens. We developed a CPRA calculator based on the HLA frequencies in Koreans to measure sensitization levels in Korean patients.
To develop the calculator, we obtained the HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DR phenotypes of 1,622 Koreans, and compared these with previously reported frequencies in Koreans. Sera from patients awaiting kidney transplantation were tested for HLA antibodies by Luminex PRA-screen, PRA-identification (ID), and PRA-SA assays. The measured %PRA from the PRA-screen (N=55) and PRA-ID (N=71) were compared to the %CPRA for the unacceptable antigens obtained from PRA-SA.
Phenotype frequencies used for the CPRA calculator agreed with previously reported data. The concordance rates among the 3 PRA methods for the detection of class I and class II antibodies were 76.1-81.8% (kappa, 0.519-0.636) and 72.7-83.6% (0.463-0.650), respectively. For the detection of broadly sensitized sera (>50% or >80%), the concordance rates were over 80%. In sera with 80-100% CPRA, 91.7% and 94.4% of the samples had concordant results (80-100% PRA) in the PRA-screen and PRA-ID assay, respectively.
Although further clinical studies are required to confirm the benefits of CPRA values, adoption of CPRA analysis based on HLA frequencies in Koreans may be useful for sensitization measurements and organ-allocation algorithms.
Panel reactive antibody (PRA); Calculated panel reactive antibody (CPRA); Transplantation; HLA antibody; Sensitization; Unacceptable antigen
Here we report the cytogenetic and clinical manifestations observed in a patient with a rec(20)dup(20p)inv(20)(p11.2q13.3)mat. The patient was a full-term newborn girl with asymmetric intrauterine growth restriction and multiple congenital malformations, including a ventricular septal defect, pulmonary atresia, ambiguous genitalia, clinodactyly, and sacral dimpling. To our knowledge, this is the 4th report in the world and the 1st one in Korea of a patient with rec(20)dup(20p).
Trisomy 20p; Recombinant chromosome; Chromosome inversion; Congenital disorders
We aimed to investigate the diagnostic utility of osteocalcin (OC), undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in pre- and postmenopausal women for femoral neck, L1-4, and L2-4 bone mineral density (BMD) values by taking into consideration their age, body mass index (BMI), and menopausal status.
Premenopausal (N=40) and postmenopausal cases (N=42) were classified as 25-34 or 35-45 yr of age and within the first 5 yr or 5 yr or more after the onset of menopause, respectively.
Among the groups, statistical differences were found for age, BMI, OC, ucOC, ALP, femoral neck BMD, L1-4 BMD, and L2-4 BMD. The highest serum OC, ucOC, and ALP levels were observed in cases within the first 5 yr after the onset of menopause, probably due to a more rapid bone turnover rate. The best predictors for the femoral neck osteoporosis were ALP, OC, and calcium (areas under the ROC curve [AUC]=0.882, 0.829, and 0.761, respectively), and those for L1-4 and L2-4 osteoporosis were OC, ALP, and ucOC (AUC=0.949, 0.873, and 0.845; and 0.866, 0.819, and 0.814, respectively). Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the most discriminative parameter for osteoporosis was OC.
These results indicate that serum OC levels, with or without ucOC and ALP, may be useful to monitor follow-up changes that currently cannot be assessed with BMD and to diagnose femoral neck, L1-4 spine, and L2-4 spine osteoporosis.
Bone mineral density; Menopause; Osteocalcin; Osteoporosis; Undercarboxylated osteocalcin
Rapid and accurate detection of norovirus is essential for the prevention and control of norovirus outbreaks. This study compared the effectiveness of a new immunochromatographic assay kit (SD BIOLINE Norovirus; Standard Diagnostics, Korea) and real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) for detecting norovirus in fecal specimens. Compared with real-time RT-PCR, the new assay had sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 76.5% (52/68), 99.7% (342/343), 98.1% (52/53), and 95.5% (342/358), respectively. The sensitivity of the assay was 81.8% (18/22) for GII.3 and 75.7% (28/37) for GII.4. None of the 38 enteric virus-positive specimens (3 for astrovirus, 5 for enteric adenovirus, and 30 for rotavirus) tested positive in the cross-reactivity test performed by using this assay. The new immunochromatographic assay may be a useful screening tool for the rapid detection of norovirus in sporadic and outbreak cases; however, negative results may require confirmatory assays of greater sensitivity.
Immunochromatographic assay; Norovirus; Sensitivity; Specificity
The coexistence of CCND1/IGH and MYC rearrangements in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare finding associated with a very poor prognosis. In this study, a patient with blastoid variant (MCL) is reported. The disease was clinically aggressive and refractory to chemotherapy, and the patient only survived for 1 month following diagnosis. Conventional cytogenetic study, FISH, and multicolor FISH (mFISH) demonstrated the involvement of the BCL1/CCND1 locus in a complex translocation, t(3;11)(q25;p15)t(11;14)(q13;q32). In addition, subclonal abnormalities in the 8q24 region, manifested as a t(8;14)(q24;q32)/MYC rearrangement, were identified. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first MCL case in Korea bearing these complex genomic aberrations.
Mantle cell lymphoma; CCND1; MYC
Multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat fingerprinting (MLVF) is based on multiplex PCR, utilizing variable number tandem repeat. Our goal was to compare the performance of MLVF in distinguishing clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates with that of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which has traditionally been the gold standard.
Sixty-three clinically significant S. aureus isolates were tested using both PFGE and MLVF. Multiplex PCR for MLVF was performed using PCR primers for clfA, clfB, sdrCDE, sspA, and spa. PFGE was performed with genomic DNA fragments generated by SmaI endonuclease digestion. Banding patterns of MLVF or PFGE were analyzed using InfoQuestFP software.
The hands-on time of our modified method was about 3 h, on average, for each of 18 isolates. PFGE (80% cutoff) or MLVF (75% cutoff) separated all of the 63 isolates into 13 and 12 types, respectively. Three types generated by PFGE were identical to those generated by MLVF. PFGE and MLVF yielded similar Simpson's diversity indices, indicating similar discriminatory power. The overall concordance between PFGE and MLVF was low, as represented by adjusted Rand indices (0.266-0.278). PFGE predicted MLVF type better than MLVF predicted PFGE type, as reflected by Wallace coefficients (PFGE cutoff 80% vs. MLVF cutoff 75%, 0.389 vs. 0.233). Analysis of the relationship between a pair of isolates showed 91.0% concordance between the PFGE (80% cutoff) and MLVF (75% cutoff).
Our simple, low-cost, modified MLVF protocol can effectively discriminate between S. aureus clinical isolates. MLVF can replace PFGE for the hospital infection control of S. aureus.
Staphylococcus aureus; Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; Multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat fingerprinting
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia in India. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is used in diabetic patients as an index of glycemic control reflecting glucose levels of the previous 3 months. Like blood sugar levels, HbA1c levels are also affected by the presence of variant hemoglobins, hemolytic anemias, nutritional anemias, uremia, pregnancy, and acute blood loss. However, reports on the effects of iron deficiency anemia on HbA1c levels are inconsistent. We conducted a study to analyze the effects of iron deficiency anemia on HbA1c levels and to assess whether treatment of iron deficiency anemia affects HbA1c levels.
Fifty patients confirmed to have iron deficiency anemia were enrolled in this study. HbA1c and absolute HbA1c levels were measured both at baseline and at 2 months after treatment, and these values were compared with those in the control population.
The mean baseline HbA1c level in anemic patients (4.6%) was significantly lower than that in the control group (5.5%, p<0.05). A significant increase was observed in the patients' absolute HbA1c levels at 2 months after treatment (0.29 g/dL vs. 0.73 g/dL, p<0.01). There was a significant difference between the baseline values of patients and controls (0.29 g/dL vs. 0.74 g/dL, p<0.01).
In contrast to the observations of previous studies, ours showed that HbA1c levels and absolute HbA1c levels increased with treatment of iron deficiency anemia. This could be attributable to nutritional deficiency and/or certain unknown variables. Further studies are warranted.
Iron deficiency anemia; Hemoglobin A1c; HbA1c; Glycated hemoglobin
Methylmercury is an organic form of mercury that is highly toxic to humans. Here, we present and establish a novel method to detect methylmercury concentrations in the blood of Koreans.
Methylmercury concentration was analyzed with an automated methylmercury analytic system (MERX, Brooks Rand Co., USA) using cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrophotometry (CVAFS). A variety of biological materials were digested in methanolic potassium hydroxide solution. The analysis method was validated by examination of certified reference material (955c, National Institute of Standard and Technology, USA). We randomly selected 30 Korean adults (age 20 yr or older) to analyze total blood mercury and methylmercury concentrations.
The detection limit and methylmercury recovery rate using this method were 0.1 pg/L and, 99.19% (range: 89.33-104.89%), respectively. The mean blood concentration of methylmercury was 4.54±2.15 µg/L (N=30). The mean proportion of methylmercury to the total mercury concentration was 78.27% (range: 41.37-98.80%).
This study is the first report to analyze blood methylmercury concentration using CVAFS in Korea. We expect that this method will contribute to the evaluation of mercury exposure and the assessment of the toxicological impact of mercury in future studies.
Methylmercury; Blood; Limit of detection
Hereditary hemolytic anemia comprises a group of disorders in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are produced in the bone marrow; various hereditary factors can cause this condition, including production of defective Hb and erythrocyte membrane. Recently, we identified Hb Koriyama, a rare Hb variant that was undetectable in Hb electrophoresis and stability tests, in a patient with severe hemolytic anemia. This is the first study to show the nucleotide-level sequence variations in Hb Koriyama. On the basis of our results, we conclude that unstable Hb may not be detectable by conventional Hb electrophoresis or stability tests. Thus, we suggest further genetic workup in cases of unexplained hereditary hemolytic anemia.
Hemoglobinopathy; Hemoglobin variant; Hb Koriyama