Molecular diagnosis of rhino-orbito-cerebral mucormycosis from fresh tissue samples

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We aimed to evaluate a PCR-based technique for the diagnosis of mucormycosis and the identification of fungi from fresh tissue specimens in patients with rhino-orbito-cerebral-mucormycosis (ROCM).


Fifty cases of ROCM were included in the study. Conventional identification was performed using microscopy and culture. Molecular diagnosis was performed by amplifying the ribosomal DNA using pan-fungal ITS primers and semi-nested Mucorales-specific primers of the 18S region. The amplified products were sequenced to identify the agents. The utility of PCR-RFLP of the 18S region of rDNA was evaluated to identify the Mucorales.


The ROCM cases were diagnosed by the demonstration of aseptate ribbon-like hyphae in biopsy specimens collected from the patients. Isolation was possible in 24 (48%) samples. The ITS2 PCR confirmed mucormycosis in 27 cases (54%; CI 59.4-68.2). By comparison, Mucorales-specific PCR was able to amplify DNA and the sequence enabled the identification of Mucorales speciesin all the patients. PCR-RFLP of the 18S region of rDNA could only identify the agent to genus level.


The molecular technique was able to identify Mucorales species in 26 (42%) cases that were negative by culture. Mucorales-specific semi-nested PCR targeting the 18S region is a better technique than ITS2 PCR for diagnosis. PCR-RFLP of the 18S region helps in identification to genus level.

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