Evaluation of Coxiella burnetii antibiotic susceptibilities by real-time PCR assay.
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Coxiella burnetii is an obligate intracellular bacterium. The inability to cultivate this organism on axenic medium has made calculation of infectious units challenging and prevents the use of conventional antibiotic susceptibility assays. A rapid and reliable real-time PCR assay was developed to quantify C. burnetii cells from J774.16 mouse macrophage cells and was applied to antibiotic susceptibility testing of C. burnetii Nine Mile, phase I. For calculation of bacterial replication, real-time PCR performed equally as well as immunofluorescent-antibody (IFA) assay when J774.16 cells were infected with 10-fold serial dilutions of C. burnetii and was significantly (P < 0.05) more repeatable than IFA when 2-fold dilutions were used. Newly infected murine macrophage-like J774.16 cells were treated with 8 microg of chloramphenicol per ml, 4 microg of tetracycline per ml, 4 microg of rifampin per ml, 4 microg of ampicillin per ml, or 1 microg of ciprofloxacin per ml. After 6 days of treatment, tetracycline, rifampin, and ampicillin significantly (P < 0.01) inhibited the replication of C. burnetii, while chloramphenicol and ciprofloxacin did not. In general, these results are consistent with those from prior reports on the efficacy of these antibiotics against C. burnetii Nine Mile, phase I, and indicate that a real-time PCR-based assay is an appropriate alternative to the present methodology for evaluation of the antibiotic susceptibilities of C. burnetii.