Molecular typing methods for the epidemiological identification of Clostridium difficile strains

Stuart H Cohen, Yajarayma J. Tang, Joseph Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Toxigenic Clostridium difficile is the etiologic agent of C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD), the most common cause of nosocomial diarrhea. Cross-infection between patients and transmission through the environment and medical personnel are important factors in the acquisition of CDAD. In order to understand differences in epidemiology and pathogenesis, a number of typing schemes have been developed. We will review the typing methods used to study the epidemiology of C. difficile infections and how they have evolved from a phenotypic identification to state of the art molecular methods, detecting genetic polymorphisms among strains. These molecular methods include PCR-based methods (arbitrarily primed-PCR [AP-PCR] and PCR ribotyping), restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) and pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The application, usefulness and feasibility of these methods are compared and discussed. Finally, the role of genomics as a tool to investigate CDAD is introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • AP-PCR
  • C. difficile
  • Epidemiology
  • Genotyping
  • PCR ribotyping
  • PFGE
  • Phenotypic methods
  • REA
  • Toxinotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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