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Metagenomic next-generation sequencing of plasma for diagnosis of COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis

Hoenigl, Martin, Egger, Matthias, Price, Jessica, Krause, Robert, Prattes, Juergen, White, P. Lewis and Hanson, Kimberly E. 2023. Metagenomic next-generation sequencing of plasma for diagnosis of COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 61 (3) , e01859-22. 10.1128/jcm.01859-22

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Timely diagnosis remains an unmet need in non-neutropenic patients at risk for aspergillosis, including those with COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA), which in its early stages is characterized by tissue-invasive growth of the lungs with limited angioinvasion. Currently available mycological tests show limited sensitivity when testing blood specimens. Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) to detect microbial cell-free DNA (mcfDNA) in plasma might overcome some of the limitations of conventional diagnostics. A two-center cohort study involving 114 COVID-19 intensive care unit patients evaluated the performance of plasma mcfDNA sequencing for the diagnosis of CAPA. Classification of CAPA was performed using the European Confederation for Medical Mycology (ECMM)/International Society for Human and Animal Mycoses (ISHAM) criteria. A total of 218 plasma samples were collected between April 2020 and June 2021 and tested for mcfDNA (Karius test). Only 6 patients were classified as probable CAPA, and 2 were classified as possible, while 106 patients did not fulfill CAPA criteria. The Karius test detected DNA of mold pathogens in 12 samples from 8 patients, including Aspergillus fumigatus in 10 samples from 6 patients. Mold pathogen DNA was detected in 5 of 6 (83% sensitivity) cases with probable CAPA (A. fumigatus in 8 samples from 4 patients and Rhizopus microsporus in 1 sample), while the test did not detect molds in 103 of 106 (97% specificity) cases without CAPA. The Karius test showed promising performance for diagnosis of CAPA when testing plasma, being highly specific. The test detected molds in all but one patient with probable CAPA, including cases where other mycological tests from blood resulted continuously negative, outlining the need for validation in larger studies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
ISSN: 0095-1137
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 20 January 2023
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2023 16:45

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