False positive diagnosis of meningococcal infection by the IS1106 PCR ELISA

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 May 15;162(2):215-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1998.tb13001.x.


At a time when optimal case ascertainment for meningococcal infection is a high priority, the need for non-culture case confirmation, in particular by DNA amplification, is seen as being of vital importance to assist contact management and cluster recognition. A solution hybridisation assay with colorimetric microtitre plate detection (polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR ELISA)¿ has been developed using the multicopy insertion sequence IS1106 which had reportedly achieved a specificity of 100% and was described as being meningococcal specific. This PCR ELISA assay was evaluated on specimens from over 5000 patients at the national Meningococcal Reference Unit (MRU) between late 1995 and early 1997 and was found to be highly sensitive. Insertion sequences, however, are genetically mobile with the ability to spread between species and even genera. During the evaluation period of the IS1106 PCR ELISA a number of false positives proved to be caused by organisms other than N. meningitidis were recorded resulting in the withdrawal of this assay as a front line screening assay for routine confirmation of meningococcal infection.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / diagnosis*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial