Rapid and accurate diagnostic assays with simultaneous microbial identification and drug resistance detection are essential for optimising treatment and control of tuberculosis.Methods
We developed a novel multiplex (TRIOL, Tuberculosis-Rifampicin-Isoniazid-Ofloxacin-Luminex) assay using the Luminex xMAP system that simultaneously identifies Mycobacterium tuberculosis and detects resistance to first-line and second-line anti-tuberculous drugs, and compared its performance with that by PCR sequencing, using phenotypic drug susceptibility testing as the gold standard.Results
Identification of M. tuberculosis by the TRIOL assay was highly sensitive (100%) and specific (100%). The overall drug-specific specificities were excellent (100%). The overall sensitivity of the TRIOL assay was lower than that of the PCR-sequencing assays (72.4% vs 82.8%) because of a lower sensitivity of detecting rifampicin resistance (71.4% vs 92.9%). The sensitivity of detecting isoniazid and ofloxacin resistance was as good as the PCR-sequencing assays. Importantly, the TRIOL assay did not miss any mutations that were included in the assay. All of the resistant isolates that were missed had uncommon mutations or unknown resistance mechanisms that were not included in the assay.Conclusions
The TRIOL assay has higher throughput, lower cost and is less labour intensive than the PCR-sequencing assays. The TRIOL assay is advantageous in having the capability to detect resistance to multiple drugs and an open-architecture system that allows addition of more specific primers to detect uncommon mutations. Inclusion of additional primers for the identification of non-tuberculous mycobacteria, spoligotyping and improvement of rifampicin resistance detection would enhance the use of the TRIOL assay in future clinical and epidemiological studies.