Tuberculous meningitis (TBM), the most severe extrapulmonary manifestation of tuberculosis, is caused by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The M. tuberculosis complex includes seven lineages, all described to harbor a unique geographical dissemination pattern and clinical presentation. In this study, we set out to determine whether a certain M. tuberculosis lineage demonstrated tropism to cause TBM in patients from Cape Town, South Africa. DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded central nervous system (CNS) tissue from a unique neuropathological cohort of 83 TBM patients, collected between 1975 and 2012. M. tuberculosis lineages 1, 2, 3, and 4 were determined using an allele-specific PCR and Sanger sequencing. Of the 83 patient specimens tested, bacterial characterization could be performed on 46 specimens (55%). M. tuberculosis lineage 4 was present in 26 patient specimens (56%), and non-lineage 4 was identified in 10 cases (22%). Moreover, genomic heterogeneity was detected in the CNS specimens of 7 adults and 3 children. We could show that infection of the CNS is not restricted to a single M. tuberculosis lineage and that even young children with rapid progression of disease can harbor more than one M. tuberculosis lineage in the CNS.
van Leeuwen, L. M., Versteegen, P., Zaharie, S. D., van Elsland, S. L., Jordaan, A., Streicher, E. M., ... van Furth, A. M. (2019). Bacterial genotyping of central nervous system tuberculosis in South Africa: Heterogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection and Predominance of Lineage 4. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 57(8), [e00415-19]. https://doi.org/10.1128/JCM.00415-19