Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundKlebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus are major bacterial causes of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) globally, leading to substantial morbidity and mortality. The rapid increase of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in these pathogens poses significant challenges for their effective antibiotic therapy. In low-resourced settings, patients with LRTIs are prescribed antibiotics empirically while awaiting several days for culture results. Rapid pathogen and AMR gene detection could prompt optimal antibiotic use and improve outcomes.MethodsHere, we developed multiplex quantitative real-time PCR using EvaGreen dye and melting curve analysis to rapidly identify six major pathogens and fourteen AMR genes directly from respiratory samples. The reproducibility, linearity, limit of detection (LOD) of real-time PCR assays for pathogen detection were evaluated using DNA control mixes and spiked tracheal aspirate. The performance of RT-PCR assays was subsequently compared with the gold standard, conventional culture on 50 tracheal aspirate and sputum specimens of ICU patients.ResultsThe sensitivity of RT-PCR assays was 100% for K. pneumoniae, A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa, E. coli and 63.6% for S. aureus and the specificity ranged from 87.5% to 97.6%. The kappa correlation values of all pathogens between the two methods varied from 0.63 to 0.95. The limit of detection of target bacteria was 1600 CFU/ml. The quantitative results from the PCR assays demonstrated 100% concordance with quantitative culture of tracheal aspirates. Compared to culture, PCR assays exhibited higher sensitivity in detecting mixed infections and S. pneumoniae. There was a high level of concordance between the detection of AMR gene and AMR phenotype in single infections.ConclusionsOur multiplex quantitative RT-PCR assays are fast and simple, but sensitive and specific in detecting six bacterial pathogens of LRTIs and their antimicrobial resistance genes and should be further evaluated for clinical utility.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC infectious diseases

Publication Date





Molecular Epidemiology Group, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, 764 Vo Van Kiet Street, Ward 1, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


Humans, Bacteria, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Respiratory Tract Infections, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Reproducibility of Results, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction