Rapid detection of Chlamydia pneumoniae by PCR-enzyme immunoassay

J Clin Microbiol. 1998 Jul;36(7):1890-4. doi: 10.1128/JCM.36.7.1890-1894.1998.


Chlamydia pneumoniae is an important human respiratory pathogen. Laboratory diagnosis of infection with this organism is difficult. To facilitate the detection of C. pneumoniae by PCR, an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for analysis of PCR products was developed. Biotin-labeled PCR products generated from the 16S rRNA gene of C. pneumoniae were hybridized to a digoxigenin-labeled probe and then immobilized to streptavidin-coated microtiter plates. Bound PCR product-probe hybrids were detected with antidigoxigenin peroxidase conjugate and a colorimetric substrate. This EIA was as sensitive as Southern blot hybridization for the detection of PCR products and 100 times more sensitive than visualization of PCR products on agarose gels. The diagnostic value of the PCR-EIA in comparison to cell culture was assessed in throat swab specimens from children with respiratory tract infections. C. pneumoniae was isolated from only 1 of 368 specimens tested. In contrast, 15 patient specimens were repeatedly positive for C. pneumoniae by PCR and Southern analysis. All of these 15 specimens were also identified by PCR-EIA. Of the 15 specimens positive by 16S rRNA-based PCR, 13 specimens could be confirmed by omp1-based PCR or direct fluorescent-antibody assay. Results of this study demonstrate that PCR is more sensitive than cell culture for the detection of C. pneumoniae. The EIA described here is a rapid, sensitive, and simple method for detection of amplified C. pneumoniae DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Southern
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis*
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / genetics
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / isolation & purification*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Ethidium
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Staining and Labeling / methods


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Ethidium