Direct assessment of possible mutations in the 23S rRNA gene encoding macrolide resistance in Chlamydia trachomatis

J M van Niekerk, I H M van Loo, M Lucchesi, S A Morré, C J P A Hoebe, N H T M Dukers-Muijrers, P F G Wolffs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Reports of potential treatment failure have raised particular concerns regarding the efficacy of the single dose azithromycin regimen in the treatment of urogenital and anorectal Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infections. Several factors have been suggested, including heterotypic resistance. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing in CT requires cell culture with serial dilutions of antibiotics, which is laborious and for which there is no standardized testing methodology. One method to partly overcome these difficulties would be to use a genotypic resistance assay, however most current available assays do still require prior CT culture. In order to facilitate the assessment of genotypic resistance directly from clinical samples, without the need for prior culture, the aim of this study was to develop a CT specific PCR assay for the assessment of resistance associated mutations (RAMs) in the 23S rRNA gene, and to evaluate a sample of clinical cases in which CT PCR's remained positive during follow-up despite azithromycin treatment. Neither the in silico analysis nor the analytical specificity testing demonstrated clinically relevant cross-reactivity with other bacterial species. These results in conjunction with the analytical sensitivity demonstrating consistent CT 23S rRNA gene detection in the range of 10e3 IFU/mL, exemplify the assay's apt performance. Although no known macrolide RAMs were detected in the clinical cases, the described assay allows future culture independent macrolide RAM surveillance in CT, and increases accessibility for other laboratories to engage in screening.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0265229
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology
  • Azithromycin/pharmacology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis/genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial/genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial/genetics
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Macrolides/pharmacology
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S/genetics

Cite this