Can a toxin gene NAAT be used to predict toxin EIA and the severity of Clostridium difficile infection?

Mark I. Garvey, Craig W. Bradley, Martyn A. C. Wilkinson, Elisabeth Holden

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Diagnosis of C. difficile infection (CDI) is controversial because of the many laboratory methods available and their lack of ability to distinguish between carriage, mild or severe disease. Here we describe whether a low C. difficile toxin B nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) cycle threshold (CT) can predict toxin EIA, CDI severity and mortality.

Methods: A three-stage algorithm was employed for CDI testing, comprising a screening test for glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), followed by a NAAT, then a toxin enzyme immunoassay (EIA). All diarrhoeal samples positive for GDH and NAAT between 2012 and 2016 were analysed. The performance of the NAAT CT value as a classifier of toxin EIA outcome was analysed using a ROC curve; patient mortality was compared to CTs and toxin EIA via linear regression models.

Results: A CT value ≤26 was associated with ≥72% toxin EIA positivity; applying a logistic regression model we demonstrated an association between low CT values and toxin EIA positivity. A CT value of ≤26 was significantly associated (p = 0.0262) with increased one month mortality, severe cases of CDI or failure of first line treatment. The ROC curve probabilities demonstrated a CT cut off value of 26.6.

Discussions: Here we demonstrate that a CT ≤26 indicates more severe CDI and is associated with higher mortality. Samples with a low CT value are often toxin EIA positive, questioning the need for this additional EIA test.

Conclusions: A CT ≤26 could be used to assess the potential for severity of CDI and guide patient treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number127
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017


  • Clostridium Difficile
  • NAAT
  • EIA
  • severity
  • mortality
  • C. difficile infection


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