Developments for improved diagnosis of bacterial bloodstream infections

A.J.M. Loonen, P.F.G. Wolffs, C.A. Bruggeman, A.J.C. van den Brule*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Bloodstream infections (BSIs) are associated with high mortality and increased healthcare costs. Optimal management of BSI depends on several factors including recognition of the disease, laboratory tests and treatment. Rapid and accurate identification of the etiologic agent is crucial to be able to initiate pathogen specific antibiotic therapy and decrease mortality rates. Furthermore, appropriate treatment might slow down the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains. Culture-based methods are still considered to be the "gold standard" for the detection and identification of pathogens causing BSI. Positive blood cultures are used for Gram-staining. Subsequently, positive blood culture material is subcultured on solid media, and (semi-automated) biochemical testing is performed for species identification. Finally, a complete antibiotic susceptibility profile can be provided based on cultured colonies, which allows the start of pathogen-tailored antibiotic therapy. This conventional workflow is extremely time-consuming and can take up to several days. Furthermore, fastidious and slow-growing microorganisms, as well as antibiotic pre-treated samples can lead to false-negative results. The main aim of this review is to present different strategies to improve the conventional laboratory diagnostic steps for BSI. These approaches include protein-based (MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry) and nucleic acid-based (polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) identification from subculture, blood cultures, and whole blood to decrease time to results. Pathogen enrichment and DNA isolation methods, to enable optimal pathogen DNA recovery from whole blood, are described. In addition, the use of biomarkers as patient pre-selection tools for molecular assays are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1702
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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