Optimisation of a droplet digital PCR assay for the diagnosis of Schistosoma japonicum infection: A duplex approach with DNA binding dye chemistry

Kosala G Weerakoon, Catherine A Gordon, Geoffrey N Gobert, Pengfei Cai, Donald P McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Schistosomiasis is a chronically debilitating helminth infection with a significant socio-economic and public health impact. Accurate diagnostics play a pivotal role in achieving current schistosomiasis control and elimination goals. However, many of the current diagnostic procedures, which rely on detection of schistosome eggs, have major limitations including lack of accuracy and the inability to detect pre-patent infections. DNA-based detection methods provide a viable alternative to the current tests commonly used for schistosomiasis diagnosis. Here we describe the optimisation of a novel droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) duplex assay for the diagnosis of Schistosoma japonicum infection which provides improved detection sensitivity and specificity. The assay involves the amplification of two specific and abundant target gene sequences in S. japonicum; a retrotransposon (SjR2) and a portion of a mitochondrial gene (nad1). The assay detected target sequences in different sources of schistosome DNA isolated from adult worms, schistosomules and eggs, and exhibits a high level of specificity, thereby representing an ideal tool for the detection of low levels of parasite DNA in different clinical samples including parasite cell free DNA in the host circulation and other bodily fluids. Moreover, being quantitative, the assay can be used to determine parasite infection intensity and, could provide an important tool for the detection of low intensity infections in low prevalence schistosomiasis-endemic areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Volume125
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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