The diagnostic performance of the beta-glucan assay in the detection of intra-amniotic infection with Candida species

Percy Pacora, Roberto Romero, Offer Erez, Eli Maymon, Bogdan Panaitescu, Juan Pedro Kusanovic, Adi L. Tarca, Chaur Dong Hsu, Sonia S. Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: A bioassay based on the detection of beta-glucan, a constituent of the cell wall of fungi, has been successfully used to diagnose fungal infections in a variety of biological fluids but not yet in the amniotic fluid. Objective: To determine the diagnostic performance of a beta-glucan bioassay in the detection of Candida species in the amniotic fluid of women who either did or did not have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) in place during an episode of spontaneous preterm parturition. Methods: The study population comprised women who had a singleton pregnancy without congenital or chromosomal abnormalities, who experienced preterm labor or preterm prelabor rupture of the fetal membranes, and who underwent a transabdominal amniocentesis for clinical indications. Samples of amniotic fluid were cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, genital mycoplasmas, and Candida species, and assayed for beta-glucan, using the (1→3)-beta-d-glucan-specific Limulus amebocyte lysate test (beta-glucan assay) in all cases. Amniotic fluid interleukin (IL)-6 assay results were also available for all cases. The beta-glucan assay takes about 1 hour to run: a concentration >80 pg/mL was considered positive for fungi. Sterile intra-amniotic inflammation of the amniotic cavity was defined by the presence of an amniotic fluid IL-6 concentration ≥2.6 ng/mL and a negative amniotic fluid culture. Results: (1) One hundred ninety-seven (197) women met the study criteria, of whom 58 (29.4%) had an IUD in place; (2) 20 (10.2%) women had a culture of proven intra-amniotic Candida species-related infection, 19 of whom had a positive beta-glucan assay [sensitivity, 95% (19/20; 95% confidence interval (CI): 75.1–99.9%)]; and (3) the specificity of the beta-glucan assay was 75.1% [133/177; 95% CI: 68.1–99.9%]. It was affected by the presence of nonfungal intra-amniotic infections and an IUD, but not by the presence of sterile intra-amniotic inflammation, and there was a significant interaction between the presence of an IUD and nonfungal intra-amniotic infections (estimated for the interaction effect = 2.1923, p value =.026). The assay’s specificity was reduced when nonfungal intra-amniotic infections were diagnosed but only in women who did not have an IUD. Among women without an IUD, the assay’s specificity was 91.4% (117/128); it was 93% (106/114) for those without intra-amniotic infection, and 78.6% (11/14) for those with a nonfungal intra-amniotic infection; the difference was not significant (p =.09). Among women with an IUD, the assay’s specificity was 32.7% (16/49); 42.9% (9/21) for those with a nonfungal intra-amniotic infection; and 25% (7/28) for those without intra-amniotic infection; and the difference was significant (p =.03). Conclusions: The beta-glucan assay is a sensitive, rapid, point-of-care test used to diagnose intra-amniotic Candida species-related infection, and it has a high specificity in pregnant women who did not have an IUD in place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1720
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 19 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Amniotic fluid
  • Candida albicans
  • fetus
  • newborn
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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