PCR-based method for shigella flexneri serotyping: International multicenter validation

Silvina P. Brengi, Qiangzheng Sun, Hilda Bolaños, Francisco Duarte, Claire Jenkins, Mariana Pichel, Mohammad Shahnaij, Evangeline G. Sowers, Nancy Strockbine, Kaisar A. Talukder, Gordana Derado, María Rosa Viñas, Kai Man Kam, Jianguo Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Shigella spp. are a leading cause of human diarrheal disease worldwide, with Shigella flexneri being the most frequently isolated species in developing countries. This serogroup is presently classified into 19 serotypes worldwide. We report here a multicenter validation of a multiplex-PCR-based strategy previously developed by Q. Sun, R. Lan, Y. Wang, A. Zhao, et al. (J Clin Microbiol 49:3766 -3770, 2011) for molecular serotyping of S. flexneri. This study was performed by seven international laboratories, with a panel of 71 strains (researchers were blind to their identity) as well as 279 strains collected from each laboratory's own local culture collections. This collaborative work found a high extent of agreement among laboratories, calculated through interrater reliability (IRR) measures for the PCR test that proved its robustness. Agreement with the traditional method (serology) was also observed in all laboratories for 14 serotypes studied, while specific genetic events could be responsible for the discrepancies among methodologies in the other 5 serotypes, as determined by PCR product sequencing in most of the cases. This work provided an empirical framework that allowed the use of this molecular method to serotype S. flexneri and showed several advantages over the traditional method of serological typing. These advantages included overcoming the problem of availability of suitable antisera in testing laboratories as well as facilitating the analysis of multiple samples at the same time. The method is also less time-consuming for completion and easier to implement in routine laboratories. We recommend that this PCR be adopted, as it is a reliable diagnostic and characterization methodology that can be used globally for laboratory-based shigella surveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01592-18
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.


  • Molecular serotyping
  • Multicenter validation
  • PCR
  • Serotypes
  • Shigella flexneri


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