Background: Infection due to Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial disease of global health significance, and especially the L-serovars causing lymphogranuloma venereum are increasingly being found in Europe in men who have sex with men.
Results: The design and evaluation of a rapid, multiplex, real-time PCR targeting the major outer membrane protein (omp-1) -gene and a L-serovar-specific region of the polymorphic protein H (pmp-H) -gene for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis is reported here. The PCR takes place as a single reaction with an internal control. For L1-, L2- and L3-serovar differentiation a second set of real-time PCRs was evaluated based on the amplification of serovar-specific omp-1-regions. The detection limit of each real-time PCR, multiplexed or not, was 50 genome copies per reaction with an efficiency ranging from 90,5-95,2%. In a retrospective analysis of 50 ocular, rectal and urogenital specimens formerly tested to be positive for C. trachomatis we identified six L2-serovars in rectal specimens of HIV-positive men, one in a double-infection with L3, and one L2 in a urethral specimen of an HIV-negative male.
Conclusion: This unique real-time PCR is specific and convenient for the rapid routine-diagnostic detection of lymphogranuloma venereum-associated L-serovars and enables the subsequent differentiation of L1, L2 and L3 for epidemiologic studies.