Diagnostic value of serological tests against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a large cystic fibrosis population

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Serological methods to monitor Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonisation in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are advocated but the diagnostic value of a commercially available P aeruginosa antibody test to detect early and chronic P aeruginosa colonisation in a non-research setting has not been assessed.


Colonisation with P aeruginosa was estimated by regular culture of sputum or oropharyngeal swabs during three consecutive years in 220 patients with CF aged 0–65 years. Commercially available ELISA tests with three P aeruginosa antigens (elastase, exotoxin A, alkaline protease) were performed at the end of the study period. In a subgroup of 57 patients (aged 4–14 years) serological tests were performed annually.


Using culture as the reference standard, the ELISA tests using the advised cut off values had a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 89% for chronic colonisation. Receiver-operator characteristic curves were created to optimise cut off values. Applying these new cut off values resulted in a sensitivity of 96% and a specificity of 79%. All three individual serological tests discriminated well between the absence and presence of chronic P aeruginosa colonisation. The sensitivity of the individual antibody test was 87% for elastase, 79% for exotoxin A, and 76% for alkaline protease. First colonisation was preceded by positive serological results in only five of 13 patients (38%).


In patients with CF, serological tests using specific antigens are sensitive for diagnosing chronic P aeruginosa colonisation. However, the failure of serological tests to detect early colonisation in young patients emphasises the need for continued reliance on cultures.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles