The presence of endogenous amplification inhibitors in urine may produce false-negative results for the detection of
Chlamydia trachomatisnucleic acids by tests such as PCR, ligase chain reaction (LCR), and transcription-mediated amplification (TMA). Consecutive urine specimens from 101 pregnant women and 287 nonpregnant women submitted for urinalysis were processed for C. trachomatisdetection. Aliquots were spiked with the equivalent of one C. trachomatiselementary body and were tested by three commercial assays: AMPLICOR CT/NG, Chlamydia LCX, and Chlamydia TMA. The prevalence of inhibitors resulting in complete inhibition of amplification was 4.9% for PCR, 2.6% for LCR, and 7.5% for TMA. In addition, all three assays were partially inhibited by additional urine specimens. Only PCR was more often inhibited by urine from pregnant women than by urine from nonpregnant women (9.9 versus 3.1%; P= 0.011). A complete urinalysis including dipstick and a microscopic examination was performed. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the following substances were associated with amplification inhibition: beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (odds ratio [OR], 3.3) and crystals (OR, 3.3) for PCR, nitrites for LCR (OR, 14.4), and hemoglobin (OR, 3.3), nitrites (OR, 3.3), and crystals (OR, 3.3) for TMA. Aliquots of each inhibitory urine specimen were stored at 4 and −70°C overnight or were extracted with phenol-chloroform and then retested at dilutions of 1:1, 1:4, and 1:10. Most inhibition was removed by storage overnight at 4 or −70°C and a dilution of 1:10 (84% for PCR, 100% for LCR, and 92% for TMA). Five urine specimens (three for PCR and two for TMA) required phenol-chloroform extraction to remove inhibitors. The results indicate that the prevalence of nucleic acid amplification inhibitors in female urine is different for each technology, that this prevalence may be predicted by the presence of urinary factors, and that storage and dilution remove most of the inhibitors.