Open Access Open Badges Research article

Comparison of culture and qPCR for the detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in not chronically infected cystic fibrosis patients

Pieter Deschaght1*, Petra Schelstraete2, Guido Lopes dos Santos Santiago1, Leen Van Simaey1, Filomeen Haerynck2, Sabine Van daele2, Elke De Wachter3, Anne Malfroot3, Patrick Lebecque4, Christiane Knoop5, Georges Casimir5, Hedwige Boboli6, Frédéric Pierart6, Kristine Desager7, Mario Vaneechoutte1 and Frans De Baets2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory for Bacteriology Research (LBR), Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

2 Cystic Fibrosis Centre Ghent, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

3 Cystic Fibrosis Centre, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

4 Cystic Fibrosis Centre, Cliniques St Luc, University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium

5 Cystic Fibrosis Centre ULB, Hôpital Universitaire des Enfants Reine Fabiola, Erasme University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium

6 Cystic Fibrosis Centre Liege, CHR La Citadelle and CHC Espérance, Liege, Belgium

7 Cystic Fibrosis Centre Antwerp, University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:245  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-245

Published: 24 September 2010



Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the major respiratory pathogen causing severe lung infections among CF patients, leading to high morbidity and mortality. Once infection is established, early antibiotic treatment is able to postpone the transition to chronic lung infection. In order to optimize the early detection, we compared the sensitivity of microbiological culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR) for the detection of P. aeruginosa in respiratory samples of not chronically infected CF patients.


In this national study, we followed CF patients during periods between 1 to 15 months. For a total of 852 samples, 729 (86%) remained P. aeruginosa negative by both culture and qPCR, whereas 89 samples (10%) were positive by both culture and qPCR.

Twenty-six samples were negative by culture but positive by qPCR, and 10 samples were positive by culture but remained negative by qPCR. Five of the 26 patients with a culture negative, qPCR positive sample became later P. aeruginosa positive both by culture and qPCR.


Based on the results of this study, it can be concluded that qPCR may have a predictive value for impending P. aeruginosa infection for only a limited number of patients.