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1.  Fluorescence in situ Hybridization method using Peptide Nucleic Acid probes for rapid detection of Lactobacillus and Gardnerella spp. 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:82.
Background
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection occurring in women of reproductive age. It is widely accepted that the microbial switch from normal microflora to BV is characterized by a decrease in vaginal colonization by Lactobacillus species together with an increase of Gardnerella vaginalis and other anaerobes. Our goal was to develop and optimize a novel Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) Fluorescence in situ Hybridization assay (PNA FISH) for the detection of Lactobacillus spp. and G. vaginalis in mixed samples.
Results
Therefore, we evaluated and validated two specific PNA probes by using 36 representative Lactobacillus strains, 22 representative G. vaginalis strains and 27 other taxonomically related or pathogenic bacterial strains commonly found in vaginal samples. The probes were also tested at different concentrations of G. vaginalis and Lactobacillus species in vitro, in the presence of a HeLa cell line. Specificity and sensitivity of the PNA probes were found to be 98.0% (95% confidence interval (CI), from 87.8 to 99.9%) and 100% (95% CI, from 88.0 to 100.0%), for Lactobacillus spp.; and 100% (95% CI, from 92.8 to 100%) and 100% (95% CI, from 81.5 to 100.0%) for G. vaginalis. Moreover, the probes were evaluated in mixed samples mimicking women with BV or normal vaginal microflora, demonstrating efficiency and applicability of our PNA FISH.
Conclusions
This quick method accurately detects Lactobacillus spp. and G. vaginalis species in mixed samples, thus enabling efficient evaluation of the two bacterial groups, most frequently encountered in the vagina.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-82
PMCID: PMC3637831  PMID: 23586331
Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH); Peptide Nucleic Acid Probe (PNA probe); Lactobacillus spp.; Gardnerella vaginalis; Bacterial vaginosis
2.  Comparison of culture and qPCR for the detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in not chronically infected cystic fibrosis patients 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:245.
Background
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the major respiratory pathogen causing severe lung infections among CF patients, leading to high morbidity and mortality. Once infection is established, early antibiotic treatment is able to postpone the transition to chronic lung infection. In order to optimize the early detection, we compared the sensitivity of microbiological culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR) for the detection of P. aeruginosa in respiratory samples of not chronically infected CF patients.
Results
In this national study, we followed CF patients during periods between 1 to 15 months. For a total of 852 samples, 729 (86%) remained P. aeruginosa negative by both culture and qPCR, whereas 89 samples (10%) were positive by both culture and qPCR.
Twenty-six samples were negative by culture but positive by qPCR, and 10 samples were positive by culture but remained negative by qPCR. Five of the 26 patients with a culture negative, qPCR positive sample became later P. aeruginosa positive both by culture and qPCR.
Conclusion
Based on the results of this study, it can be concluded that qPCR may have a predictive value for impending P. aeruginosa infection for only a limited number of patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-245
PMCID: PMC2949703  PMID: 20868481
3.  Comparison of the sensitivity of culture, PCR and quantitative real-time PCR for the detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in sputum of cystic fibrosis patients 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:244.
Background
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the major pathogen involved in the decline of lung function in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Early aggressive antibiotic therapy has been shown to be effective in preventing chronic colonization. Therefore, early detection is important and sensitive detection methods are warranted. In this study, we used a dilution series of P. aeruginosa positive sputa, diluted in a pool of P. aeruginosa negative sputa, all from CF patients - to mimick as closely as possible the sputa sent to routine laboratories - to compare the sensitivity of three culture techniques versus that of two conventional PCR formats and four real-time PCR formats, each targeting the P. aeruginosa oprL gene. In addition, we compared five DNA-extraction protocols.
Results
In our hands, all three culture methods and the bioMérieux easyMAG Nuclisens protocol Generic 2.0.1, preceded by proteinase K pretreatment and followed by any of the 3 real-time PCR formats with probes were most sensitive and able to detect P. aeruginosa up to 50 cfu/ml, i.e. the theoretical minimum of one cell per PCR mixture, when taking into account the volumes used in this study of sample for DNA-extraction, of DNA-elution and of DNA-extract in the PCR mixture.
Conclusion
In this study, no difference in sensitivity could be found for the detection of P. aeruginosa from sputum between microbiological culture and optimized DNA-extraction and real-time PCR. The results also indicate the importance of the optimization of the DNA-extraction protocol and the PCR format.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-244
PMCID: PMC2789735  PMID: 19943966
4.  Longitudinal analysis of the vaginal microflora in pregnancy suggests that L. crispatus promotes the stability of the normal vaginal microflora and that L. gasseri and/or L. iners are more conducive to the occurrence of abnormal vaginal microflora 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:116.
Background
Despite their antimicrobial potential, vaginal lactobacilli often fail to retain dominance, resulting in overgrowth of the vagina by other bacteria, as observed with bacterial vaginosis. It remains elusive however to what extent interindividual differences in vaginal Lactobacillus community composition determine the stability of this microflora. In a prospective cohort of pregnant women we studied the stability of the normal vaginal microflora (assessed on Gram stain) as a function of the presence of the vaginal Lactobacillus index species (determined through culture and molecular analysis with tRFLP).
Results
From 100 consecutive Caucasian women vaginal swabs were obtained at mean gestational ages of 8.6 (SD 1.4), 21.2 (SD 1.3), and 32.4 (SD 1.7) weeks, respectively. Based on Gram stain, 77 women had normal or Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microflora (VMF) during the first trimester, of which 18 had grade Ia (L. crispatus cell morphotypes) VMF (23.4%), 16 grade Iab (L. crispatus and other Lactobacillus cell morphotypes) VMF (20.8%), and 43 grade Ib (non-L. crispatus cell morphotypes) VMF (55.8%). Thirteen women with normal VMF at baseline, converted in the second or third trimester (16.9%) to abnormal VMF defined as VMF dominated by non-Lactobacillus bacteria. Compared to grade Ia and grade Iab VMF, grade Ib VMF were 10 times (RR = 9.49, 95% CI 1.30 – 69.40) more likely to convert from normal to abnormal VMF (p = 0.009). This was explained by the observation that normal VMF comprising L. gasseri/iners incurred a ten-fold increased risk of conversion to abnormal VMF relative to non-L. gasseri/iners VMF (RR 10.41, 95% CI 1.39–78.12, p = 0.008), whereas normal VMF comprising L. crispatus had a five-fold decreased risk of conversion to abnormal VMF relative to non-L. crispatus VMF (RR 0.20, 95% CI 0.05–0.89, p = 0.04).
Conclusion
The presence of different Lactobacillus species with the normal vaginal microflora is a major determinant to the stability of this microflora in pregnancy: L. crispatus promotes the stability of the normal vaginal microflora while L. gasseri and/or L. iners predispose to some extent to the occurrence of abnormal vaginal microflora.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-116
PMCID: PMC2698831  PMID: 19490622
5.  Microflora of the penile skin-lined neovagina of transsexual women 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:102.
Background
The microflora of the penile skin-lined neovagina in male-to-female transsexuals is a recently created microbial niche which thus far has been characterized only to a very limited extent. Yet the knowledge of this microflora can be considered as essential to the follow-up of transsexual women. The primary objective of this study was to map the neo-vaginal microflora in a group of 50 transsexual women for whom a neovagina was constructed by means of the inverted penile skin flap technique. Secondary objectives were to describe possible correlations of this microflora with multiple patients' characteristics, such as sexual orientation, the incidence of vaginal irritation and malodorous vaginal discharge.
Results
Based on Gram stain the majority of smears revealed a mixed microflora that had some similarity with bacterial vaginosis (BV) microflora and that contained various amounts of cocci, polymorphous Gram-negative and Gram-positive rods, often with fusiform and comma-shaped rods, and sometimes even with spirochetes. Candida cells were not seen in any of the smears.
On average 8.6 species were cultured per woman. The species most often found were: Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus anginosus group spp., Enterococcus faecalis, Corynebacterium sp., Mobiluncus curtisii and Bacteroides ureolyticus. Lactobacilli were found in only one of 30 women
There was no correlation between dilatation habits, having coitus, rinsing habits and malodorous vaginal discharge on the one hand and the presence of a particular species on the other. There was however a highly significant correlation between the presence of E. faecalis on the one hand and sexual orientation and coitus on the other (p = 0.003 and p = 0.027 respectively).
Respectively 82%, 58% and 30% of the samples showed an amplicon after amplification with M. curtisii, Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis primer sets.
Conclusion
Our study is the first to describe the microflora of the penile skin-lined neovagina of transsexual women. It reveals a mixed microflora of aerobe and anaerobe species usually found either on the skin, in the intestinal microflora or in a BV microflora.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-102
PMCID: PMC2695466  PMID: 19457233
6.  Quantitative determination by real-time PCR of four vaginal Lactobacillus species, Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae indicates an inverse relationship between L. gasseri and L. iners 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:115.
Background
Most studies of the vaginal microflora have been based on culture or on qualitative molecular techniques. Here we applied existing real-time PCR formats for Lactobacillus crispatus, L. gasseri and Gardnerella vaginalis and developed new formats for Atopobium vaginae, L. iners and L. jensenii to obtain a quantitative non culture-based determination of these species in 71 vaginal samples from 32 pregnant and 28 non-pregnant women aged between 18 and 45 years.
Results
The 71 vaginal microflora samples of these women were categorized, using the Ison and Hay criteria, as refined by Verhelst et al. (2005), as follows: grade Ia: 8 samples, grade Iab: 10, grade Ib: 13, grade I-like: 10, grade II: 11, grade III: 12 and grade IV: 7.
L. crispatus was found in all but 5 samples and was the most frequent Lactobacillus species detected. A significantly lower concentration of L. crispatus was found in grades II (p < 0.0001) and III (p = 0.002) compared to grade I. L. jensenii was found in all grades but showed higher concentration in grade Iab than in grade Ia (p = 0.024). A. vaginae and G. vaginalis were present in high concentrations in grade III, with log10 median concentrations (log10 MC), respectively of 9.0 and 9.2 cells/ml. Twenty (38.5%) of the 52 G. vaginalis positive samples were also positive for A. vaginae. In grade II we found almost no L. iners (log10 MC: 0/ml) but a high concentration of L. gasseri (log10 MC: 8.7/ml). By contrast, in grade III we found a high concentration of L. iners (log10 MC: 8.3/ml) and a low concentration of L. gasseri (log10 MC: 0/ml). These results show a negative association between L. gasseri and L. iners (r = -0.397, p = 0.001) and between L. gasseri and A. vaginae (r = -0.408, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion
In our study we found a clear negative association between L. iners and L. gasseri and between A. vaginae and L. gasseri. Our results do not provide support for the generally held proposition that grade II is an intermediate stage between grades I and III, because L. gasseri, abundant in grade II is not predominant in grade III, whereas L. iners, abundant in grade III is present only in low numbers in grade II samples.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-7-115
PMCID: PMC2233628  PMID: 18093311
7.  Comparison between Gram stain and culture for the characterization of vaginal microflora: Definition of a distinct grade that resembles grade I microflora and revised categorization of grade I microflora 
BMC Microbiology  2005;5:61.
Background
The microbiological diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis is usually made using Nugent's criteria, a useful but rather laborious scoring system based on counting bacterial cell types on Gram stained slides of vaginal smears. Ison and Hay have simplified the score system to three categories and added a fourth category for microflora with a predominance of the Streptococcus cell type. Because in the Nugent system several cell types are not taken into account for a final score, we carried out a detailed assessment of the composition of the vaginal microflora in relation to standard Gram stain in order the improve the diagnostic value of the Gram stain. To this purpose we compared Gram stain based categorization of vaginal smears with i) species specific PCR for the detection of Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae and with ii) tDNA-PCR for the identification of most cultivable species.
Results
A total of 515 samples were obtained from 197 pregnant women, of which 403 (78.3%) were categorized as grade I microflora, 46 (8.9%) as grade II, 22 (4.3%) as grade III and 8 (1.6%) as grade IV, according to the criteria of Ison and Hay. Another 36 samples (7.0%) were assigned to the new category 'grade I-like', because of the presence of diphtheroid bacilli cell types. We found that 52.7% of the grade I-like samples contained Bifidobacterium spp. while L. crispatus was present in only 2.8% of the samples and G. vaginalis and A. vaginae were virtually absent; in addition, the species diversity of this category was similar to that of grade II specimens.
Based on the presence of different Lactobacillus cell types, grade I specimens were further characterized as grade Ia (40.2%), grade Iab (14.9%) and grade Ib (44.9%). We found that this classification was supported by the finding that L. crispatus was cultured from respectively 87.0% and 76.7% of grade Ia and Iab specimens while this species was present in only 13.3% of grade Ib specimens, a category in which L. gasseri and L. iners were predominant.
Conclusion
Further refinement of Gram stain based grading of vaginal smears is possible by distinguishing additional classes within grade I smears (Ia, Iab and Ib) and by adding a separate category, designated grade I-like. A strong correlation was found between grade Ia and the presence of L. crispatus and between grade I-like and the presence of bifidobacteria. This refinement of Gram stain based scoring of vaginal smears may be helpful to improve the interpretation of the clinical data in future studies, such as the understanding of response to treatment and recurrence of bacterial vaginosis in some women, and the relationship between bacterial vaginosis and preterm birth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-5-61
PMCID: PMC1266370  PMID: 16225680
8.  An interlaboratory comparison of ITS2-PCR for the identification of yeasts, using the ABI Prism 310 and CEQ8000 capillary electrophoresis systems 
BMC Microbiology  2005;5:14.
Background
Currently, most laboratories identify yeasts routinely on the basis of morphology and biochemical reactivity. This approach has quite often limited discriminatory power and may require long incubation periods. Due to the increase of fungal infections and due to specific antifungal resistence patterns for different species, accurate and rapid identification has become more important. Several molecular techniques have been described for fast and reliable identification of yeast isolates, but interlaboratory exchangeability of identification schemes of molecular techniques has hardly been studied. Here, we compared amplified ITS2 fragment length determination by an ABI Prism 310 (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, Ca.) capillary electrophoresis system with that obtained by a CEQ8000 (Beckman Coulter, Fullerton, Ca.) capillary electrophoresis system.
Results
Although ITS2 size estimations on both systems differed and separate libraries had to be constructed for each system, both approaches had the same discriminatory power with regard to the 44 reference strains, identical identifications were obtained for 39/ 40 clinical isolates in both laboratories and strains from 51 samples were correctly identified using CEQ8000, when compared to phenotypic identification.
Conclusion
Identification of yeasts with ITS2-PCR followed by fragment analysis can be carried out on different capillary electrophoresis systems with comparable discriminatory power.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-5-14
PMCID: PMC1082908  PMID: 15774019
9.  Extended-Spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacter aerogenes phenotypically misidentified as Klebsiella pneumoniae or K. terrigena 
BMC Microbiology  2004;4:49.
Background
Enterobacter aerogenes and Klebsiella pneumoniae are common isolates in clinical microbiology and important as producers of extended spectrum β-lactamases (ESBL). The discrimination between both species, which is routinely based on biochemical characteristics, is generally accepted to be straightforward. Here we report that genotypically unrelated strains of E. aerogenes can be misidentified as K. pneumoniae by routine laboratories using standard biochemical identification and using identification automates.
Results
Ten clinical isolates, identified as K. pneumoniae or K. terrigena with the routinely used biochemical tests and with API-20E, were identified as E. aerogenes by tDNA-PCR – an identification that was confirmed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing for five of these isolates. Misidentification also occurred when using the automated identification systems Vitek 2 and Phoenix, and was due to delayed positivity for ornithine decarboxylase and motility. Subculture and prolonged incubation resulted in positive results for ornithine decarboxylase and for motility. It could be shown by RAPD-analysis that the E. aerogenes strains belonged to different genotypes.
Conclusions
Clinical E. aerogenes isolates can be easily misidentified as Klebsiella due to delayed positivity for ornithine decarboxylase and motility. The phenomenon may be widespread, since it was shown to occur among genotypically unrelated strains from different hospitals and different isolation dates. A useful clue for correct identification is the presence of an inducible β-lactamase, which is highly unusual for K. pneumoniae. In several instances, the use of genotypic techniques like tDNA-PCR may circumvent problems of phenotypic identification.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-4-49
PMCID: PMC544577  PMID: 15619329
10.  Cloning of 16S rRNA genes amplified from normal and disturbed vaginal microflora suggests a strong association between Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis and bacterial vaginosis 
BMC Microbiology  2004;4:16.
Background
The pathogenesis of bacterial vaginosis remains largely elusive, although some microorganisms, including Gardnerella vaginalis, are suspected of playing a role in the etiology of this disorder. Recently culture-independent analysis of microbial ecosystems has proven its efficacy in characterizing the diversity of bacterial populations. Here, we report on the results obtained by combining culture and PCR-based methods to characterize the normal and disturbed vaginal microflora.
Results
A total of 150 vaginal swab samples from healthy women (115 pregnant and 35 non-pregnant) were categorized on the basis of Gram stain of direct smear as grade I (n = 112), grade II (n = 26), grade III (n = 9) or grade IV (n = 3). The composition of the vaginal microbial community of eight of these vaginal swabs (three grade I, two grade II and three grade III), all from non-pregnant women, were studied by culture and by cloning of the 16S rRNA genes obtained after direct amplification. Forty-six cultured isolates were identified by tDNA-PCR, 854 cloned 16S rRNA gene fragments were analysed of which 156 by sequencing, yielding a total of 38 species, including 9 presumptively novel species with at least five species that have not been isolated previously from vaginal samples. Interestingly, cloning revealed that Atopobium vaginae was abundant in four out of the five non-grade I specimens. Finally, species specific PCR for A. vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis pointed to a statistically significant co-occurrence of both species in the bacterial vaginosis samples.
Conclusions
Although historically the literature regarding bacterial vaginosis has largely focused on G. vaginalis in particular, several findings of this study – like the abundance of A. vaginae in disturbed vaginal microflora and the presence of several novel species – indicate that much is to be learned about the composition of the vaginal microflora and its relation to the etiology of BV.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-4-16
PMCID: PMC419343  PMID: 15102329
11.  Identification of cultured isolates of clinically important yeast species using fluorescent fragment length analysis of the amplified internally transcribed rRNA spacer 2 region 
BMC Microbiology  2002;2:21.
Background
The number of patients with yeast infection has increased during the last years. Also the variety of species of clinical importance has increased. Correct species identification is often important for efficient therapy, but is currently mostly based on phenotypic features and is sometimes time-consuming and depends largely on the expertise of technicians. Therefore, we evaluated the feasibility of PCR-based amplification of the internally transcribed spacer region 2 (ITS2), followed by fragment size analysis on the ABI Prism 310 for the identification of clinically important yeasts.
Results
A rapid DNA-extraction method, based on simple boiling-freezing was introduced. Of the 26 species tested, 22 could be identified unambiguously by scoring the length of the ITS2-region. No distinction could be made between the species Trichosporon asteroides and T. inkin or between T. mucoides and T. ovoides. The two varieties of Cryptococcus neoformans (var. neoformans and var. gattii) could be differentiated from each other due to a one bp length difference of the ITS2 fragment. The three Cryptococcus laurentii isolates were split into two groups according to their ITS2-fragment lengths, in correspondence with the phylogenetic groups described previously. Since the obtained fragment lengths compare well to those described previously and could be exchanged between two laboratories, an internationally usable library of ITS2 fragment lengths can be constructed.
Conclusions
The existing ITS2 size based library enables identification of most of the clinically important yeast species within 6 hours starting from a single colony and can be easily updated when new species are described. Data can be exchanged between laboratories.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-2-21
PMCID: PMC117793  PMID: 12139769
12.  Evaluation of amplified rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) for the identification of cultured mycobacteria in a diagnostic laboratory 
BMC Microbiology  2002;2:4.
Background
The development of DNA amplification for the direct detection of M. tuberculosis from clinical samples has been a major goal of clinical microbiology during the last ten years. However, the limited sensitivity of most DNA amplification techniques restricts their use to smear positive samples. On the other hand, the development of automated liquid culture has increased the speed and sensitivity of cultivation of mycobacteria. We have opted to combine automated culture with rapid genotypic identification (ARDRA: amplified rDNA restriction analysis) for the detection resp. identification of all mycobacterial species at once, instead of attempting direct PCR based detection from clinical samples of M. tuberculosis only.
Results
During 1998–2000 a total of approx. 3500 clinical samples was screened for the presence of M. tuberculosis. Of the 151 culture positive samples, 61 were M. tuberculosis culture positive. Of the 30 smear positive samples, 26 were M. tuberculosis positive. All but three of these 151 mycobacterial isolates could be identified with ARDRA within on average 36 hours. The three isolates that could not be identified belonged to rare species not yet included in our ARDRA fingerprint library or were isolates with an aberrant pattern.
Conclusions
In our hands, automated culture in combination with ARDRA provides with accurate, practically applicable, wide range identification of mycobacterial species. The existing identification library covers most species, and can be easily updated when new species are studied or described. The drawback is that ARDRA is culture-dependent, since automated culture of M. tuberculosis takes on average 16.7 days (range 6 to 29 days). However, culture is needed after all to assess the antibiotic susceptibility of the strains.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-2-4
PMCID: PMC101405  PMID: 11945178

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