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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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

Results 1-6 (6)