Utility of PCR in diagnosis of invasive fungal infections: real-life data from a multicenter study

J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Mar;51(3):863-8. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02965-12. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Prospective studies addressing the clinical value of broad-range PCR using the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) for diagnosis of microscopy-negative fungal infections in nonselected patient populations are lacking. We first assessed the diagnostic performance of ITS rRNA gene PCR compared with that of routine microscopic immunofluorescence examination. Second, we addressed prospectively the impact and clinical value of broad-range PCR for the diagnosis of infections using samples that tested negative by routine microscopy; the corresponding patients' data were evaluated by detailed medical record reviews. Results from 371 specimens showed a high concordance of >80% for broad-range PCR and routine conventional methods, indicating that the diagnostic performance of PCR for fungal infections is comparable to that of microscopy, which is currently considered part of the "gold standard." In this prospective study, 206 specimens with a negative result on routine microscopy were analyzed with PCR, and patients' clinical data were reviewed according to the criteria of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer/Invasive Fungal Infections Cooperative Group and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Mycoses Study Group. We found that broad-range PCR showed a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 57.1%, 97.0%, 80%, and 91.7%, respectively, for microscopy-negative fungal infections. This study defines a possible helpful role of broad-range PCR for diagnosis of microscopy-negative fungal infections in conjunction with other tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer / isolation & purification
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Microbiological Techniques / methods*
  • Mycology / methods*
  • Mycoses / diagnosis*
  • Mycoses / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer