Bacterial DNA patterns identified using paired-end Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA genes from whole blood samples of septic patients in the emergency room and intensive care unit Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Sepsis refers to clinical presentations ranging from mild body dysfunction to multiple organ failure. These clinical symptoms result from a systemic inflammatory response to pathogenic or potentially pathogenic microorganisms present systemically in the bloodstream. Current clinical diagnostics rely on culture enrichment techniques to identify bloodstream infections. However, a positive result is obtained in a minority of cases thereby limiting our knowledge of sepsis microbiology. Previously, a method of saponin treatment of human whole blood combined with a comprehensive bacterial DNA extraction protocol was developed. The results indicated that viable bacteria could be recovered down to 10 CFU/ml using this method. Paired-end Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene also indicated that the bacterial DNA extraction method enabled recovery of bacterial DNA from spiked blood. This manuscript outlines the application of this method to whole blood samples collected from patients with the clinical presentation of sepsis. RESULTS: Blood samples from clinically septic patients were obtained with informed consent. Application of the paired-end Illumina 16S rRNA sequencing to saponin treated blood from intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department (ED) patients indicated that bacterial DNA was present in whole blood. There were three clusters of bacterial DNA profiles which were distinguished based on the distribution of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Gram-negative DNA. The profiles were examined alongside the patient's clinical data and indicated molecular profiling patterns from blood samples had good concordance with the primary source of infection. CONCLUSIONS: Overall this study identified common bacterial DNA profiles in the blood of septic patients which were often associated with the patients' primary source of infection. These results indicated molecular bacterial DNA profiling could be further developed as a tool for clinical diagnostics for bloodstream infections.


  • Faria, Monica Martins Pereira
  • Winston, Brent Warren
  • Surette, Michael
  • Conly, John Maynard

publication date

  • December 2018

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