Early and accurate detection of pathogens is important to improve clinical outcomes of bloodstream infections (BSI), especially in the case of drug-resistant pathogens. In this study, we aimed to develop a culture-independent digital PCR (dPCR) system for multiplex detection of major sepsis-causing gram-negative pathogens and antimicrobial resistance genes using plasma DNA from BSI patients. Our duplex dPCR system successfully detected nine targets (five bacteria-specific targets and four antimicrobial resistance genes) through five reactions within 3 hours. The minimum detection limit was 50 ag of bacterial DNA, suggesting that 1 CFU/ml of bacteria in the blood can be detected. To validate the clinical applicability, cell-free DNA samples from febrile patients were tested with our system and confirmed high consistency with conventional blood culture. This system can support early identification of some drug-resistant gram-negative pathogens, which can help improving treatment outcomes of BSI.
Keywords: Digital PCR, Bloodstream infection, Gram-negative, Blood-stream infection, Antimicrobial resistance