COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Real-time quantitative PCR in cerebral toxoplasmosis diagnosis of Brazilian human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients

Rafael T Mesquita, Ângela P Ziegler, Roberto M Hiramoto, Jose E Vidal, Vera L Pereira-Chioccola
Journal of Medical Microbiology 2010, 59 (Pt 6): 641-647
20150319
Cerebral toxoplasmosis is the most common cerebral mass lesion in AIDS patients in Brazil, and results in high mortality and morbidity, despite free access to HAART (highly active antiretroviral treatment). Molecular diagnosis based on conventional PCR (cnPCR) or real-time quantitative PCR (qrtPCR) has been indispensable for definitive diagnosis. We report here the evaluation of qrtPCR with blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from AIDS patients in Brazil. This prospective study was conducted for 2 years, analysing DNA samples extracted from 149 AIDS patients (98 blood and 51 CSF samples) with confirmed clinical and radiological diagnosis. The laboratory diagnosis included cnPCR (with the B22/B23 primer set) and indirect immunofluorescence (IF). For qrtPCR, two primer sets were simultaneously designed based on described genes and using a 6-carboxyfluorescein dye-labelled TaqMan MGB (minor groove binder) probe. One was B1Tg, which amplified a sequence from the B1 gene. The other was the RETg, which amplified a PCR product of the 529 bp sequence. The overall cnPCR and qrtPCR results were: positive results were observed in 33.6% (50) patients. The sensitivities were 98% for cnPCR (B22/B23), and 86 and 98% for qrtPCR (B1Tg and RETg, respectively). Negative reactions were observed in 66.4% patients. The specificities were 97% for cnPCR and qrtPCR (B1Tg), and 88.8 % for RETg. These data show that RETg PCR is highly sensitive as it amplifies a repeat region with many copies; however, its specificity is lower than the other markers. However, B1Tg PCR had good specificity, but lower sensitivity. Among the patients, 20 had blood and CSF collected simultaneously. Thus, their results permitted us to analyse and compare molecular, serological and clinical diagnosis for a better understanding of the different scenarios of laboratorial and clinical diagnosis. For nine patients with confirmed cerebral toxoplasmosis diagnosis, four scenarios were observed: (i) and (ii) negative molecular diagnosis for CSF and positive for blood with variable IF titres for the sera and CSF (negative or positive); (iii) positive molecular diagnosis with CSF and negative with blood; and (iv) positive molecular diagnosis in both samples. In the latter two situations, normally the IF titres in sera and CSF are variable. Other opportunistic infections were shown in 11 patients. Despite the IF titres in sera and CSF being variable, all of them had negative molecular diagnosis for both samples. qrtPCR allows for a rapid identification of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in patient samples; in a minority of cases discrepancies occur with the cnPCR.

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