Typing methods are needed for epidemiological tracking of new emerging and hyperviru-lent strains because of the growing incidence, severity and mortality of Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI). The aim of this study was the evaluation of a typing Matrix-Assisted Desorption/Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS (T-MALDI)) method for the rapid classification of the circulating C. difficile strains in comparison with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-ribotyping results. Among 95 C. difficile strains, 10 ribotypes (PR1–PR10) were identified by PCR-ribotyping. In particular, 93.7% of the isolates (89/95) were grouped in five ribotypes (PR1–PR5). For T-MALDI, two classifying algorithm models (CAM) were tested: the first CAM involved all 10 ribotypes whereas the second one only the PR1–PR5 ribotypes. Better performance was obtained using the second CAM: recognition capability of 100%, cross-validation of 96.6% and agreement of 98.4% (60 correctly typed strains, limited to PR1–PR5 classification, out of 61 examined strains) with PCR-ribotyping results. T-MALDI seems to represent an alternative to PCR-ribotyping in terms of reproducibility, set up time and costs, as well as a useful tool in epidemiological investigation for the detection of C. difficile clusters (either among CAM included ribotypes or out-of-CAM ribotypes) involved in outbreaks.
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