Rapid nucleic acid diagnostics for the detection of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria: is it time for a paradigm shift?

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Jul;69(7):1729-33. doi: 10.1093/jac/dku083. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


A key component for tackling the ever more serious antimicrobial resistance problem in Gram-negative bacteria is the introduction of rapid nucleic acid diagnostics. Successful incorporation of new diagnostic technologies has the potential benefit of improving not only patient treatment but also infection control and antimicrobial stewardship. However, there are still many hurdles to overcome, such as the complexity of resistance mechanisms in Gram-negative bacteria, the discrepancy between phenotype and genotype and the difficulty in distinguishing pathogens from background commensals. A small number of manufacturers have introduced tests to the market that concentrate partly or specifically on resistance determinants in Gram-negative bacteria. These are currently predominantly based on different types of PCR technology. The development of new technologies, such as whole-genome sequencing and the combination of MALDI-TOF with PCR, holds much promise for the introduction of improved diagnostics for the future.

Keywords: MALDI-TOF; carbapenemase; multiplex PCR; point of care; whole genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • DNA, Bacterial