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Lancet. 1995 Jan 14;345(8942):79-83.

Familial disseminated atypical mycobacterial infection in childhood: a human mycobacterial susceptibility gene?

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Department of Paediatrics, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, UK.


Inherited defects in specific components of the immune system have provided many clues to the immunological mechanisms underlying resistance to microbial infection. We report a familial immune defect predisposing to disseminated atypical mycobacterial infection in childhood. 6 children with disseminated atypical mycobacterial infection and no recognised form of immunodeficency were identified. Four, including two brothers, come from a village in Malta, and two are brothers of Greek Cypriot origin. They presented with fever, weight loss, lymphadenopathy, and hepatosplenomegaly. They had anaemia and an acute phase response. A range of different mycobacteria (Mycobacterium fortuitum, M chelonei, and four strains of M avium intracellulare complex) were isolated. Treatment with multiple antibiotics failed to eradicate the infection, although treatment with gamma interferon was associated with improvement. Three have died and the surviving children have chronic infection. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha production in response to endotoxin and gamma-interferon was found to be defective in affected patients and their parents. T-cell proliferative responses to mycobacterial and recall antigens were reduced in parents of affected children and gamma-interferon production was diminished in the affected patients and their parents. Clinical and immunological features suggest that these patients are phenotypically similar to Lsh/Ity/Bcg susceptible mice. Understanding of this defect may provide insights into the mechanisms responsible for susceptibility to mycobacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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