Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI TOF-MS) allows rapid and accurate identification of microorganisms. It is being used increasingly and becoming an important tool in clinical laboratories. Phenotypic identification of Candida species remains labor- and time consuming, and the results may sometimes be inconclusive. Rapid and reliable species identification of Candida is essential for antifungal treatment due to species-specific susceptibility patterns. In this study, we evaluated the performance of MALDI TOF-MS for identification of Candida strains. A total of 281 clinical Candida strains isolated from blood cultures were included in this study. Candida species were identified with conventional methods and automated VITEK 2 YST panels as well as with MALDI TOF-MS. Isolates with discrepant results were subjected to DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2). Ninety-four percent of the isolates were identified correctly by VITEK 2 and MALDI TOF-MS. Altogether, MALDI-TOF MS yielded the correct species identification for 281 (100%) clinical Candida isolates. MALDI-TOF proved to be a rapid and reliable method for identification of Candida strains in the clinical laboratory.
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