A multiplex real-time PCR assay for identification of Pneumocystis jirovecii, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Cryptococcus neoformans/Cryptococcus gattii in samples from AIDS patients with opportunistic pneumonia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Sara Gago
  • Cristina Esteban
  • Clara Valero
  • Oscar Zaragoza
  • Jorge Puig de la Bellacasa
  • And 1 others
  • External authors:
  • María José Buitrago


A molecular diagnostic technique based on real-time PCR was developed for the simultaneous detection of three of the most frequent causative agents of fungal opportunistic pneumonia in AIDS patients: Pneumocystis jirovecii, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Cryptococcus neoformans/Cryptococcus gattii. This technique was tested in cultured strains and in clinical samples from HIV-positive patients. The methodology used involved species-specific molecular beacon probes targeted to the internal transcribed spacer regions of the rDNA. An internal control was also included in each assay. The multiplex real-time PCR assay was tested in 24 clinical strains and 43 clinical samples from AIDS patients with proven fungal infection. The technique developed showed high reproducibility (r(2) of >0.98) and specificity (100%). For H. capsulatum and Cryptococcus spp., the detection limits of the method were 20 and 2 fg of genomic DNA/20 μl reaction mixture, respectively, while for P. jirovecii the detection limit was 2.92 log10 copies/20 μl reaction mixture. The sensitivity in vitro was 100% for clinical strains and 90.7% for clinical samples. The assay was positive for 92.5% of the patients. For one of the patients with proven histoplasmosis, P. jirovecii was also detected in a bronchoalveolar lavage sample. No PCR inhibition was detected. This multiplex real-time PCR technique is fast, sensitive, and specific and may have clinical applications.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-76
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014