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Detection of pneumolysin in sputum

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Janice Wheeler, Dr Angela Galloway


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Western blot detection of the species-specific pneumococcal product, pneumolysin (SPN), was shown to be almost as sensitive as PCR for the non-cultural detection of pneumococci in 27 Streptococcus pneumoniae culture-positive sputa from patients stated to have chest infections. Both techniques were considerably more sensitive than countercurrent immuno-electrophoresis for pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide antigens (CPS-CIE) on the same specimens. Sensitivities for PCR, SPN-immunoblotting and CPS-CIE were 100%, 85% and 67%, respectively. In 11 S. pneumoniae culture-negative sputa taken from patients receiving antibiotics, but with proven recent pneumococcal infection, PCR and SPN-blot were positive in six (in two of which CPS-CIE was also positive), PCR alone was positive in one and SPN-blot alone was positive in one. In 11 S. pneumoniae culture-negative samples from patients not receiving antibiotics, all three tests were negative in eight, PCR was positive in three (in one of which CPS-CIE was also positive), but SPN-blot was negative in all 11. In 16 S, pneumoniae culture-negative samples from patients receiving antibiotics and with no known recent pneumococcal infections, one or more non-cultural test was positive in 11. Although further evaluation is required to assess the significance of pneumolysin detection in relation to carriage and infection and to devise a more suitable test format, these preliminary studies suggest that pneumolysin detection is a promising new approach to the non-cultural diagnosis of pneumococcal chest infection.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wheeler J, Freeman R, Steward M, Henderson K, Lee MJS, Piggott NH, Eltringham GJA, Galloway A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Medical Microbiology

Year: 1999

Volume: 48

Issue: 9

Pages: 863-866

Print publication date: 01/09/1999

ISSN (print): 0022-2615

ISSN (electronic): 1473-5644

Publisher: Society for General Microbiology


DOI: 10.1099/00222615-48-9-863


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