Journal of clinical microbiology

Use of an ATP bioluminescent assay to evaluate viability of Pneumocystis carinii from rats.

PMID 7852574


A bioluminescent assay which employs the luciferin-luciferase ATP-dependent reaction was used to evaluate the viability of populations of Pneumocystis carinii derived from infected rat lungs. Contamination with host cells was reduced by a purification method which involved a combination of low- and high-speed centrifugations resulting in a 1,000-fold reduction of the rat cells while enriching for the trophic form of P. carinii. A linear correlation for the number of P. carinii nuclei versus the amount of ATP was observed. The ATP content of the organism populations could be maintained at inoculum levels for one week, although the number of organisms did not increase. Addition of respiratory chain inhibitors dramatically decreased the ATP content of the P. carinii after 24 h of incubation, with the exception of the antibiotic oligomycin B. Low concentrations of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and pentamidine isethionate reduced the organism ATP content by over 50% after 24 h of exposure, while no effect was observed with 100-fold greater concentrations of ampicillin. The bioluminescent assay was found to be a more sensitive indicator of viability than a dual fluorescent staining technique. This assay does not require replication of P. carinii and should be a useful method for in vitro drug screening and viability assessment of P. carinii populations.

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