MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry - a rapid method for the identification of dermatophyte species.
ABSTRACT Altogether 285 dermatophyte isolates of 21 different species - including both Trichophyton rubrum and T. interdigitale, but also eight additional Trichophyton species, Microsporum canis and seven other Microsporum species, as well as Epidermophyton floccosum and Arthroderma spp. - were analyzed using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and the AnagnosTec 'SARAMIS' (Spectral Archiving and Microbial Identification System) software. In addition, sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA was performed for a high number of the tested strains. Sufficient agreement was found between the results obtained with standard identification methods and those with the MALDI-TOF MS for species identification of dermatophytes. A mass spectra database was constructed which contained the species identifications of all 285 isolates. The results were confirmed for 164 of the isolates by sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA. Statistical analysis of all 285 dermatophyte strains showed that conventional identification matched the results of MALDI-TOF MS for 78.2% of the isolates tested. In the case of the 164 isolates for which the identifications were confirmed by PCR, the results of their conventional diagnosis and MALDI-TOF MS were in agreement for only 68.9 % (113 of 164 strains) of the test isolates. In contrast, there was agreement of 99.3 % or 98.8 % in the identifications obtained with PCR and MALDI-TOF MS techniques (283/285 or 162/164). The two exceptions were isolates that proved to be T. violaceum which could not be identified by the MALDI-TOF MS technique. In conclusion, the MALDI-TOF mass spectroscopy represents a fast and very specific method for species differentiation of dermatophytes grown in culture.