Utility of Molecular Identification and Quantitation of Bartonella Species with Species-Specific Real-Time PCR for Monitoring Treatment Response: A Case Series



Bartonella species are intracellular bacteria capable of producing several diseases in humans. The three most common and wellknown diseases are cat scratch disease (CSD), caused by B. henselae, trench fever, caused by B. quintana and Carrion’s Disease, caused by B. bacilliformis. Signs and symptoms are very different and aspecific: Fatigue, fever, headache, lymphadenopathy, malaise, loss of weight. No data exist to support guidelines’ recommendations to decide which drugs should be optimally used and how long they should be administered. Therefore, a marker of treatment response is needed to guide treatment strategies.


We report herein three cases in which a species specific Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase-Chain-Reaction (RT PCR) developed in-house was performed and compared to serology in order to make diagnosis and to evaluate treatment response.


Our species-specific RT PCR seemed to play a fundamental role both in diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, a discrepancy with the serology results was found.


Further studies are necessary to validate these results and elucidate what is the best treatment for this pleomorphic disease. However, in absence of clear guidelines, RT PCR may be useful to orientate kind of treatment ad its duration.

Keywords: Molecular identification, Quantitation, Bartonella species, Intracellular bacteria, Trench fever, Real time PCR.