Comparative evaluation of six commercialized multiplex PCR kits for the diagnosis of respiratory infections

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 23;8(8):e72174. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072174. eCollection 2013.


The molecular diagnosis of respiratory infection can be performed using different commercial multiplex-based PCR kits whose performances have been previously compared individually to those of conventional techniques. This study compared the practicability and the diagnostic performances of six CE-marked kits available in 2011 on the French market, including 2 detecting viruses and atypical bacteria (from Pathofinder and Seegene companies) and 4 detecting only viruses (from Abbott, Genomica, Qiagen and Seegene companies). The respective sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and agreement of each multiplex technique were calculated by comparison to commercial duplex PCR tests (Argene/bioMérieux) used as gold standard. Eighty-eight respiratory specimens with no pathogen (n = 11), single infections (n = 33) or co-infections (n = 44) were selected to cover 9 viruses or groups of viruses and 3 atypical bacteria. All samples were extracted using the NUCLISENS® easyMAG™ instrument (bioMérieux). The overall sensitivity ranged from 56.25% to 91.67% for viruses and was below 50% with both tests for bacteria. The overall specificity was excellent (>94% for all pathogens). For each tested kit, the overall agreement with the reference test was strong for viruses (kappa test >0.60) and moderate for bacteria. After the extraction step, the hands-on time varied from 50 min to 2h30 and the complete results were available in 2h30 to 9 h. The spectrum of tested agents and the technology used to reveal the PCR products as well as the laboratory organization are determinant for the selection of a kit.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction / instrumentation
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*

Grant support

The reagents were supplied by the respective manufacturers. The salaries of experimenters were paid by their respective institution. No current external funding sources were needed for this study.