Analysis of infection loads in Mycoplasma genitalium clinical specimens by use of a commercial diagnostic test

Gerald L. Murray, Jennifer Danielewski, Kaveesha Bodiyabadu, Dorothy A. Machalek, Catriona S. Bradshaw, Anna Maria Costa, Josh Birnie, Suzanne M. Garland

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Mycoplasma genitalium is a common sexually transmitted infection with a propensity to acquire resistance to commonly used antimicrobial therapies. Bacterial load has been linked to patient symptoms and the success of treatment. In this study, we demonstrate methodology to estimate load from routine diagnostic assays using the ResistancePlus MG test (SpeeDx Pty Ltd., Australia). The method gave comparable quantitation to an M. genitalium-specific 16S rRNA quantitative PCR (qPCR; Spearman r=0.94) for the samples analyzed (n=499, including urine and swab types as detailed below) and was, therefore, employed to analyze typical load levels for samples in a diagnostic laboratory (total of 1,012 tests). When stratified by sample type, female urine (median, 826 genomes/ml) had the lowest load. This was significantly lower than median loads for all other sample types (male urine [6.91×103 genomes/ml], anal swabs [5.50×103], cervical swabs [8.15×103], endocervical swabs [3.97×103], and vaginal swabs [6.95×103]) (P<0.0001). There were no significant differences in load estimates between the other sample types. Reproducibility of load estimates conducted on the same samples was high (r>0.85). In conclusion, this methodology to provide load estimates for M. genitalium can be easily integrated into routine diagnostic laboratory workflow. Given the association between organism load, symptoms, and treatment success, load assessment has future diagnostic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00344-19
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Diagnostic test
  • Infection load
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Sample type
  • Urine

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