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HIV Med. 2018 Oct;19(9):654-661. doi: 10.1111/hiv.12635. Epub 2018 Jul 3.

Comparison of Löwenstein-Jensen and BACTEC MGIT 960 culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis in people living with HIV.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Infectious Diseases Institute, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Institute of Medical Microbiology and National Centre for Mycobacteria, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Public Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



The aim of the study was to clarify how HIV infection affects tuberculosis liquid and solid culture results in a resource-limited setting.


We used baseline data from the Study on Outcomes Related to Tuberculosis and HIV Drug Concentrations in Uganda (SOUTH), which included 268 HIV/tuberculosis (TB)-coinfected individuals. Culture results from Löwenstein-Jensen (LJ) solid culture and mycobacteria growth indicator tube (MGIT) liquid culture systems and culture-based correlates for bacillary density from the sputum of HIV/TB-coinfected individuals at baseline were analysed.


Of 268 participants, 243 had a CD4 cell count available and were included in this analysis; 72.2% of cultures showed growth on solid culture and 82.2% in liquid culture systems (P < 0.015). A higher CD4 cell count was predictive of LJ positivity [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.14; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03-1.25 per 50 cells/μL increase; P = 0.008]. The same, but insignificant trend was observed for MGIT positivity (adjusted OR 1.09; 95% CI 0.99-1.211 per 50 cells/μL increase; P = 0.094). A higher CD4 cell count was associated with a higher LJ colony-forming unit grade (adjusted OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.05-1.25 per 50 cells/μL increase; P = 0.011) and a shorter time to MGIT positivity [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.08; 95% CI 1.04-1.12 per 50 cells/μL increase; P < 0.001].


In a resource-limited setting, the MGIT liquid culture system outperformed LJ solid culture in terms of culture yield and dependence on CD4 cell counts in HIV/TB-coinfected individuals. We therefore suggest considering an adaptation of diagnostic algorithms: when resources allow only one culture method to be performed, we recommend that MGIT liquid culture should be used exclusively in HIV-positive individuals as a first-line culture method, to reduce costs and make TB culture results accessible to more patients in resource-limited settings.


HIV ; CD4; culture; resource-limited setting; tuberculosis

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