Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Standardization of the PCR technique for the detection of delta toxin in Staphylococcus spp.

Marconi, C.L. R. S. Cunha, M.P. Araújo Jr, J.M. S. S. Rugolo, L.

Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS), components of the normal flora of neonates, have emerged as important opportunistic pathogens of nosocomial infections that occur in neonatal intensive care units. Some authors have reported the ability of some CNS strains, particularly Staphylococcus epidermidis, to produce a toxin similar to S. aureus delta toxin. This toxin is an exoprotein that has a detergent action on the membranes of various cell types resulting in rapid cell lysis. The objectives of the present study were to standardize the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique for the detection of the gene responsible for the production of delta toxin (hld gene) in staphylococcal species isolated from catheters and blood cultures obtained from neonates, and to compare the results to those obtained with the phenotypic synergistic hemolysis method. Detection of delta toxin by the phenotypic and genotypic method yielded similar results for the S. aureus isolates. However, in S. epidermidis, a higher positivity was observed for PCR (97.4%) compared to the synergistic hemolysis method (86.8%). Among CNS, S. epidermidis was the most frequent isolate and was a delta toxin producer. Staphylococcus simulans and S. warneri tested positive by the phenotypic method, but their positivity was not confirmed by PCR for the hld gene detection. These results indicate that different genes might be responsible for the production of this toxin in different CNS species, requiring highly specific primers for their detection. PCR was found to be a rapid and reliable method for the detection of the hld gene in S. aureus and S. epidermidis.

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