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C R Acad Sci III. 1998 Nov;321(11):941-51.

Identification of Mycobacterium DNA in an Egyptian Pott's disease of 5,400 years old.

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UMR 150 du CNRS, université Toulouse-III, France.


The antiquity of tuberculosis in the Old World is controversial because the morphology of the lesion in skeletal remains is non-specific. We report the recovery of a DNA fragment from a 5,400-year-old Predynastic Egyptian skeleton that exhibits a kyphotic, 'hunchback' spinal deformity consistent with Pott's disease and suggestive of tuberculous vertebral involvement. The recovered DNA fragment was sequenced and is consistent with an original Mycobacterium sequence. We cannot prove that it is M. tuberculosis, M. bovis or an ancient mycobacteria resembling the two current forms because the observed modifications in the sequence could be attributed to the antiquity of Mycobacterium and/or to the effects of Taq polymerase. This provides the most specific evidence for the antiquity of human Mycobacterium disease in the world.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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