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Direct detection of five common dermatophyte species in clinical samples using a rapid and sensitive 24-h PCR–ELISA technique open to protocol transfer

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Identification of dermatophytes is usually based on morphological characteristics determined by time-consuming microscopic and cultural examinations. An effective PCR–ELISA method has been developed for rapid detection of dermatophyte species directly from clinical specimens within 24 h. Isolated genomic DNA of skin scrapings and nail samples from patients with suspected dermatophyte infections is amplified with species-specific digoxigenin-labelled primers targeting the topoisomerase II gene. The subsequent ELISA procedure with biotin-labelled probes allows a sensitive and specific identification of the five common dermatophytes –Trichophyton rubrum, T. interdigitale, T. violaceum, Microsporum canis and Epidermophyton floccosum. PCR–ELISA, based on the new polyphasic species concept, was assessed using 204 microscopy-positive samples in two university mycological laboratories in Munich and Tübingen, and 316 consecutive specimens – regardless of mycological findings – in a dermatological practice laboratory in Neu-Ulm. One of the five dermatophytes was confirmed by PCR–ELISA in 163 of 204 (79.9%) of the clinical samples from the university hospitals found positive using microscopy. Culture was positive for dermatophytes in 59.8% of the same cases. A significant difference between these two methods could be demonstrated using the McNemar test (P < 0.005). Analysis of specimens from Neu-Ulm confirmed the results in a dermatological practice laboratory as 25.0% of the specimens had positive PCR results, whereas only 7.3% were positive according to culture. Direct DNA isolation from clinical specimens and the PCR–ELISA method employed in this study provide a rapid, reproducible and sensitive tool for detection and discrimination of five major dermatophytes at species level, independent of morphological and biochemical characteristics.
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Keywords: Dermatophytes; PCR–ELISA; Trichophyton rubrum; protocol transfer; topoisomerase II gene

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Munich 2: Dermatological office, Neu-Ulm 3: Department of Dermatology, Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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