Fluorescent-antibody test for detection of Clostridium difficile in stool specimens.
We evaluated a direct fluorescent-antibody test to detect Clostridium difficile, the most frequent cause of antibiotic-associated colitis. C. difficile organisms were injected into the ear veins of New Zealand White rabbits to induce antibodies, and the globulin fractions of their sera were conjugated to fluorescein isothiocyanate. The resulting conjugate strongly stained all 40 isolates of C. difficile tested. It also stained isolates of C. sordellii, C. bifermentans, C. chauvoei, and C. sporogenes, but not 20 other clostridial isolates or 10 isolates from other species. Results of testing fecal smears with the direct fluorescent-antibody method were compared with results of testing stools for C. difficile toxin and of culturing for C. difficile on a selective medium. A total of 158 fecal specimens from patients with antibiotic-associated diarrhea were tested. In these patients, the fluorescent-antibody test agreed with culture and toxin testing in 93% of the specimens. However, in normal adults, 62% of the fecal specimens from which C. difficile could not be cultured were positive by the fluorescent-antibody test. Absorption of the conjugate with C. sordellii led to a loss of reactivity to other clostridia as well as to 18 of 20 isolates of C. difficile.
Wilson, KH; Silva, J; Fekety, FR
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