Next-generation sequencing of microbial cell-free DNA for rapid noninvasive diagnosis of infectious diseases in immunocompromised hosts

Jose F. Camargo, Asim A. Ahmed, Martin S. Lindner, Michele I. Morris, Shweta Anjan, Anthony D. Anderson, Clara E. Prado, Sudeb C. Dalai, Octavio V. Martinez, Krishna V. Komanduri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) sequencing has emerged as an effective laboratory method for rapid and noninvasive diagnosis in prenatal screening testing, organ transplant rejection screening, and oncology liquid biopsies but clinical experience for use of this technology in diagnostic evaluation of infections in immunocompromised hosts is limited. Methods: We conducted an exploratory study using next-generation sequencing (NGS) for detection of microbial cfDNA in a cohort of ten immunocompromised patients with febrile neutropenia, pneumonia or intra-abdominal infection. Results: Pathogen identification by cfDNA NGS demonstrated positive agreement with conventional diagnostic laboratory methods in 7 (70%) cases, including patients with proven/probable invasive aspergillosis, Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia bacteremia, Cytomegalovirus and Adenovirus viremia. NGS results were discordant in 3 (30%) cases including two patients with culture negative sepsis who had undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplant in whom cfDNA testing identified the potential etiological agent of sepsis; and one kidney transplant recipient with invasive aspergillosis who had received >6 months of antifungal therapy prior to NGS testing. Conclusion: These observations support the clinical utility of measurement of microbial cfDNA sequencing from peripheral blood for rapid noninvasive diagnosis of infections in immunocompromised hosts. Larger studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1194
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cell-free microbial DNA
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • Immunocompromised host
  • Infection
  • Next generation sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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