An improved in-house MALDI-TOF MS protocol for direct cost-effective identification of pathogens from blood cultures

Menglan Zhou, Qiwen Yang, Timothy Kudinha, Liying Sun, Rui Zhang, Chang Liu, Shuying Yu, Meng Xiao, Fanrong Kong, Yupei Zhao, Ying Chun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Bloodstream infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients worldwide. Delays in the identification of microorganisms often leads to a poor prognosis. The application of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) directly to blood culture (BC) broth can potentially identify bloodstream infections earlier, and facilitate timely management.
Methods: We developed an "in-house" (IH) protocol for direct MALDI-TOF MS based identification of organisms in positive BCs. The IH protocol was initially evaluated and improved with spiked BC samples, and its performance was compared with the commercial Sepsityper™ kit using both traditional and modified cut-off values. We then studied in parallel the performance of the IH protocol and the colony MS identifications in positive clinical BC samples using only modified cut-off values. All discrepancies were investigated by "gold standard" of gene sequencing.
Results: In 54 spiked BC samples, the IH method showed comparable results with Sepsityper™ after applying modified cut-offvalues. Specifically, accurate species and genus level identification was achieved in 88.7 and 3.9% of all the clinical monomicrobial BCs (284/301, 94.4%), respectively. The IH protocol exhibited superior performance for Gram negative bacteria than for Gram positive bacteria (92.8 vs. 82.4%). For anaerobes and yeasts, accurate species identification was achieved in 80.0 and 90.0% of the cases, respectively. For polymicrobial cultures (17/301, 5.6%), MALDI-TOF MS correctly identified a single species present in all the polymicrobial BCs under the Standard mode, while using the MIXED method, two species were correctly identified in 52.9% of the samples. Comparisons based on BC bottle type, showed that the BACTEC™ Lytic/10 Anaerobic/F culture vials performed the best.
Conclusion: Our study provides a novel and effective sample preparation method for MALDI-TOF MS direct identification of pathogens from positive BC vials, with a lower cost ($1.5 vs. $ 7) albeit a slightly more laborious extracting process (an extra 15 min) compared with Sepsityper™ kit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1824
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2017


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