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PLoS One. 2010 May 28;5(5):e10893. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010893.

Drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis of the Beijing genotype does not spread in Sweden.

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Department of Bacteriology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden.



Drug resistant (DR) and multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB) is increasing worldwide. In some parts of the world 10% or more of new TB cases are MDR. The Beijing genotype is a distinct genetic lineage of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is distributed worldwide, and has caused large outbreaks of MDR-TB. It has been proposed that certain lineages of M. tuberculosis, such as the Beijing lineage, may have specific adaptive advantages. We have investigated the presence and transmission of DR Beijing strains in the Swedish population.


All DR M. tuberculosis complex isolates between 1994 and 2008 were studied. Isolates that were of Beijing genotype were investigated for specific resistance mutations and phylogenetic markers. Seventy (13%) of 536 DR strains were of Beijing genotype. The majority of the patients with Beijing strains were foreign born, and their country of origin reflects the countries where the Beijing genotype is most prevalent. Multidrug-resistance was significantly more common in Beijing strains than in non-Beijing strains. There was a correlation between the Beijing genotype and specific resistance mutations in the katG gene, the mabA-inhA-promotor and the rpoB gene. By a combined use of RD deletions, spoligotyping, IS1547, mutT gene polymorphism and Rv3135 gene analysis the Beijing strains could be divided into 11 genomic sublineages. Of the patients with Beijing strains 28 (41%) were found in altogether 10 clusters (2-5 per cluster), as defined by RFLP IS6110, while 52% of the patients with non-Beijing strains were in clusters. By 24 loci MIRU-VNTR 31 (45%) of the patients with Beijing strains were found in altogether 7 clusters (2-11 per cluster). Contact tracing established possible epidemiological linkage between only two patients with Beijing strains.


Although extensive outbreaks with non-Beijing TB strains have occurred in Sweden, Beijing strains have not taken hold, in spite of the proximity to high prevalence countries such as Russia and the Baltic countries. The Beijing sublineages so far introduced in Sweden may not be adapted to spread in the Scandinavian population.

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