BACKGROUND: Among HIV-infected individuals with CD4 less than 200 cells/mm3, tuberculosis often has an atypical presentation, is more likely to be disseminated and is diagnostically challenging. We sought to understand the genotypic discordance of concurrent sputum and blood M. tuberculosis (MTB) isolates from HIV-infected individuals.
METHODS: From a prospective diagnostic accuracy study with 182 HIV-infected culture-positive TB adults, isolates were obtained from 51 of 66 participants who were MTB culture-positive by both sputum and blood. Isolates were subjected to susceptibility testing to 1st line drugs, spoligotyping and 24 locus- MIRU-VNTR.
RESULTS: The median age of the participants was 31 (IQR; 27-38) years and 51% were male. The median CD4 count was 29 (IQR; 10-84) cells/mm3 with 20% taking ART; 8.0% were previously treated for TB, and 63% were AFB smear-negative. The isolates belonged to two of the main global MTB-lineages; East-African-Indian (L3) 17 (16.7%) and Euro-American (L4) 85 (83.3%). We identified 26 (51.0%) participants with discordant MTB-genotypes between sputum and blood, including two patients with evidence of mixed infection in either compartment. Having discordant MTB-genotypes was not predicted by the MTB-lineage in either blood or sputum, CD4 cell count, or any other clinical characteristic.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a high genotypic discordance among M. tuberculosis concurrently isolated from sputum and blood of HIV-infected individuals. These findings suggest that infection with more than one strain of M. tuberculosis occurs in at least half of patients with advanced HIV infection.