An assessment of the Roche Amplicor Chlamydia trachomatis/Neisseria gonorrhoeae multiplex PCR assay in routine diagnostic use on a variety of specimen types

Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2003;27(3):373-9.


The Roche Cobas Amplicor Chlamydia trachomatis/Neisseria gonorrhoeae polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay can simultaneously detect both C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae, and has been cleared by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the testing of endocervical and urethral swabs and urine specimens. The Amplicor N. gonorrhoeae PCR target sequence is known to be present in some strains of commensal Neisseria species, including N. cinerea and N. subflava, necessitating the use of a second PCR assay to confirm positive results. This study analyses the performance of the assay on 7,007 unselected specimens submitted to the laboratory for the PCR diagnosis of N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis; compares the PCR assay with culture for the detection of N. gonorrhoeae; examines the performance of the assay with specimens from different body sites; and briefly compares two confirmatory PCR assays. Confirmation rates for an initial Amplicor N. gonorrhoeae positive result varied widely by specimen type, ranging from 86.2 per cent for penile/urethral swabs to 5.6 per cent for oropharyngeal swabs, indicating all positive Amplicor N. gonorrhoeae results should be confirmed by a second method to maintain adequate specificity. Overall there was 98.1 per cent agreement between the confirmed PCR assay and culture, with confirmed PCR showing a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of 81.7 per cent, 99.5 per cent, 92.7 per cent and 98.5 per cent respectively, compared with N. gonorrhoeae culture. When confirmed C. trachomatis/N. gonorrhoeae PCR assay performance was analysed against culture using only FDA-cleared specimens (553 penile/ urethral swabs, urines and cervical/vaginal swabs), sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV and percent agreement were 96.7 per cent, 99.8 per cent, 98.9 per cent, 99.4 per cent and 99.3 per cent respectively. No significant differences were found between the two confirmatory PCR assays used during the study period. Limitations of Amplicor for the detection of N. gonorrhoeae and the appropriate use of combined C. trachomatis/N. gonorrhoeae PCR in a routine diagnostic setting are discussed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Chlamydia Infections / etiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / genetics*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Gonorrhea / etiology
  • Gonorrhea / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / isolation & purification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / standards*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urethra / microbiology
  • Urine / microbiology
  • Victoria / epidemiology