Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Differing effects of standard and harsh nucleic acid extraction procedures on diagnostic helminth real-time PCRs applied to human stool samples

This study aimed to assess standard and harsher nucleic acid extraction schemes for diagnostic helminth real-time PCR approaches from stool samples. A standard procedure for nucleic acid extraction from stool and a procedure including bead-beating as well as proteinase K digestion were compared with group-, genus-, and species-specific real-time PCR assays targeting helminths and nonhelminth pathogens in human stool samples. From 25 different in-house and commercial helminth real-time PCR assays applied to 77 stool samples comprising 67 historic samples and 10 external quality assessment scheme samples positively tested for helminths, higher numbers of positive test results were observed after bead-beating-based nucleic acid extraction for 5/25 (20%) real-time PCR assays irrespective of specificity issues. Lower cycle threshold values were observed for one real-time PCR assay after the standard extraction scheme, and for four assays after the bead-beating-based scheme. Agreement between real-time PCR results after both nucleic acid extraction strategies according to Cohen's kappa ranged from poor to almost perfect for the different assays. Varying agreement was observed in eight nonhelminth real-time PCR assays applied to 67 historic stool samples. The study indicates highly variable effects of harsh nucleic acid extraction approaches depending on the real-time PCR assay used.

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