BACKGROUND: Pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB) is diagnosed through sputum samples. As sputum sampling is challenging in children and cachexic patients, the development of diagnostic tests using saliva appears promising but has been discouraged due to low bacterial load and poor sensitivity. Here, we present a novel and rapid method to enrich Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) from saliva, which may serve as a basis for a diagnostic saliva test.
METHODS: Lipobiotin-functionalized magnetic beads (LMBs) were incubated with Mtb-spiked PBS and saliva from healthy donors as well as with saliva from TB patients. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate the capacity of the beads to bind Mtb, while real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was utilized to detect Mtb and determine the amount of mycobacterial DNA in different sample types.
RESULTS: We found that LMBs bind Mtb efficiently when compared to non-functionalized beads. The development of an qPCR assay based on the use of LMBs (LMB assay) allowed us to enrich mycobacterial DNA in spiked sample types, including PBS and saliva from healthy donors (enrichment of up to ~8.7 fold). In Mtb-spiked saliva samples, we found that the LMB assay improved the detection rate of 102 bacteria in a volume of 5 ml from 0 out of 15 (0%) to 6 out of 15 (40%). Consistent with that, the LMB assay increased the rate of correctly identified saliva samples from TB patients in two independent cohorts.
CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of the principle of the LMB-based assay may improve the sensitivity of existing diagnostic techniques, e.g. by functionalizing materials that facilitate Mtb sampling from the oral cavity.