Background: Acute respiratory tract infections (ARI) present a significant morbidity and pose a global health burden. Patients are frequently treated with antibiotics although ARI are most commonly caused by virus, strengthening the need for improved diagnostic methods.
Objectives: Detect viral and bacterial RNA in nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPA) from children aged 6-23 months with ARI using nCounter.
Study design: A custom-designed nCounter probeset containing viral and bacterial targets was tested in NPA of ARI patients.
Results: Initially, spiked control viral RNAs were detectable in ≥6.25 ng input RNA, indicating absence of inhibitors in NPA. nCounter applied to a larger NPA sample (n=61) enabled the multiplex detection of different pathogens: RNA viruses Parainfluenza virus (PIV 1-3) and RSV A-B in 21%, Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) in 5%, Bocavirus (BoV), CoV, Influenza virus (IV) A in 3% and, Rhinovirus (RV) in 2% of samples, respectively. RSV A-B was confirmed by Real Time PCR (86.2-96.9% agreement). DNA virus (AV) was detected at RNA level, reflecting viral replication, in 10% of samples. Bacterial transcripts from Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae were detected in 77, 69, 26, 8, 3 and 2% of samples, respectively.
Conclusion: nCounter is robust and sensitive for the simultaneous detection of viral (both RNA and DNA) and bacterial transcripts in NPA with low RNA input (<10 ng). This medium-throughput technique will increase our understanding of ARI pathogenesis and may provide an evidence-based approach for the targeted and rational use of antibiotics in pediatric ARI.
Keywords: ARI; Diagnostics; RSV; nCounter.
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