Development of a multiplex real-time PCR assay for the detection of Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis in a single tube reaction

Sophie Arbefeville, Michael H. Levi, Patricia Ferrieri

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8 Scopus citations


Pertussis is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the fastidious bacterium Bordetella pertussis, which may infect unvaccinated, previously vaccinated children, and adults in whom immunity has waned. Infants are at a particular risk for severe disease and complications. Bordetella parapertussis may cause a similar illness, however the symptoms are less severe and of shorter duration. Pertussis is a highly contagious disease and early diagnosis is essential. Studies have shown that PCR is 2-4 times more likely than culture to detect Bordetella pertussis. We developed a multiplex, real-time PCR assay using analyte-specific reagent (ASR) primers and probes dispensed in a convenient lyophilized bead format that targeted the multi-copy insertion sequences IS. 481 and IS. 1001 of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis, respectively. These specific ASRs were used in conjunction with Cepheid Smartmix. Included in the ASRs is a competitive internal control to evaluate the performance of the PCR reaction. After DNA extraction, amplification and detection were done on the Smart Cycler System, which performs integrated amplification and detection automatically in a single step. Specificity of the assay was confirmed using multiple distinct bacterial strains. Sensitivity of the assay and extraction efficiency were evaluated on DNA isolated from pure bacterial cultures and on spiked respiratory specimens. We also spiked different swab types and transport media to evaluate for interfering substances. To assess accuracy, we studied different patient specimen types received from two outside laboratories that used similar or different methods to detect B. pertussis and B. parapertussis. The sensitivity and the specificity of the assay for B. pertussis were 90% and 96%, respectively, and for B. parapertussis 71% (only 7 positive specimens were available for testing) and 100%, respectively. Our assay was found to be a valid method for the simultaneous detection of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-19
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Bordetella parapertussis
  • Bordetella pertussis
  • Multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)


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