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Mol Path 55:182-185 doi:10.1136/mp.55.3.182
  • Original Article

Identification by 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing of Arcobacter butzleri bacteraemia in a patient with acute gangrenous appendicitis

  1. S K P Lau,
  2. P C Y Woo,
  3. J L L Teng,
  4. K W Leung,
  5. K Y Yuen
  1. Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr K Y Yuen, Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong;
 hkumicro{at}hkucc.hku.hk
  • Accepted 20 September 2001

Abstract

Aims: To identify a strain of Gram negative facultative anaerobic curved bacillus, concomitantly isolated with Escherichia coli and Streptococcus milleri, from the blood culture of a 69 year old woman with acute gangrenous appendicitis. The literature on arcobacter bacteraemia and arcobacter infections associated with appendicitis was reviewed.

Methods: The isolate was phenotypically investigated by standard biochemical methods using conventional biochemical tests. Genotypically, the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene of the bacterium was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced. The sequence of the PCR product was compared with known 16S rRNA gene sequences in the GenBank by multiple sequence alignment. Literature review was performed by MEDLINE search (1966–2000).

Results: The bacterium grew on blood agar, chocolate agar, and MacConkey agar to sizes of 1 mm in diameter after 24 hours of incubation at 37°C in 5% CO2. It grew at 15°C, 25°C, and 37°C; it also grew in a microaerophilic environment, and was cytochrome oxidase positive and motile, typically a member of the genus arcobacter. Furthermore, phenotypic testing showed that the biochemical profile of the isolate did not fit into the pattern of any of the known arcobacter species. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed one to two base differences between the isolate and A butzleri, but 35 to 39 base differences between the isolate and A cryaerophilus, indicating that the isolate was a strain of A butzleri. Only three cases of arcobacter bacteraemia with detailed clinical characteristics were found in the English literature. The sources of the arcobacter species in the three cases were largely unknown, although the gastrointestinal tract is probably the portal of entry of the A butzleri isolated from the present case because the two concomitant isolates (E coli and S milleri) in the blood culture were common flora of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, A butzleri has previously been isolated from the abdominal contents or peritoneal fluid of three patients with acute appendicitis.

Conclusions: 16S rRNA gene sequencing was useful in the identification of the strain of A butzleri isolated from the blood culture of a patient with acute gangrenous appendicitis. Arcobacter bacteraemia is rare. Further studies using selective medium for the delineation of the association between A butzleri and acute appendicitis are warranted.

Footnotes