Open Access

Standardisation and evaluation of a quantitative multiplex real-time PCR assay for the rapid identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae


Received: 4 January 2015

Accepted: 19 June 2015

Published: 25 August 2015


Rapid diagnosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae can play a significant role in decreasing morbidity and mortality of infection. The accurate diagnosis of pneumococcal disease is hampered by the difficulties in growing the isolates from clinical specimens and also by misidentification. Molecular methods have gained popularity as they offer improvement in the detection of causative pathogens with speed and ease. The present study aims at validating and standardising the use of 4 oligonucleotide primer-probe sets (pneumolysin [ply], autolysin [lytA], pneumococcal surface adhesion A [psaA] and Spn9802 [DNA fragment]) in a single-reaction mixture for the detection and discrimination of S. pneumoniae. Here, we validate a quantitative multiplex real-time PCR (qmPCR) assay with a panel consisting of 43 S. pneumoniae and 29 non-pneumococcal isolates, 20 culture positive, 26 culture negative and 30 spiked serum samples. A standard curve was obtained using S. pneumoniae ATCC 49619 strain and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) gene was used as an endogenous internal control. The experiment showed high sensitivity with lower limit of detection equivalent to 4 genome copies/µl. The efficiency of the reaction was 100% for ply, lytA, Spn9802 and 97% for psaA. The test showed sensitivity and specificity of 100% with culture isolates and serum specimens. This study demonstrates that qmPCR analysis of sera using 4 oligonucleotide primers appears to be an appropriate method for the genotypic identification of S. pneumoniae infection.


multiplex real-time PCR Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumolysin autolysin pneumococcal surface adhesin A