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BMC Infect Dis. 2011 Sep 12;11:240. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-11-240.

Characteristics of pncA mutations in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Taiwan.

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Department of Chest Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Shih-Pai Rd,, Taipei 112, Taiwan, ROC.



Pyrazinamide (PZA) is an important first-line drug in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) treatment. However, the unreliable results obtained from traditional susceptibility testing limits its usefulness in clinical settings. The detection of pncA gene mutations is a potential surrogate of PZA susceptibility testing, especially in MDRTB isolates. The impact of genotypes of M. tuberculosis in pncA gene mutations also remains to be clarified.


MDRTB isolates were collected from six hospitals in Taiwan from January 2007 to December 2009. pncA gene sequencing, pyrazinamidase activity testing, and spoligotyping were performed on all of the isolates. PZA susceptibility was determined by the BACTEC MGIT 960 PZA method. The sensitivity and specificity of pncA gene analysis were estimated based on the results of PZA susceptibility testing.


A total of 66 MDRTB isolates, including 37 Beijing and 29 non-Beijing strains, were included for analysis. Among these isolates, 36 (54.5%) were PZA-resistant and 30 (45.5%) were PZA-susceptible. The PZA-resistant isolates were more likely to have concomitant resistance to ethambutol and streptomycin. Thirty-seven mutation types out of 30 isolates were identified in the pncA gene, and most of them were point mutations. The sensitivities of pncA gene sequencing for PZA susceptibility in overall isolates, Beijing and non-Beijing strains were 80.6%, 76.2%, and 86.7% respectively, and the specificities were 96.7%, 93.8%, and 100% respectively.


More than half of the MDRTB isolates in this study are PZA-resistant. Analysis of pncA gene mutations helped to identify PZA-susceptible MDRTB isolates, especially in non-Beijing strains.

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