Tuberc Respir Dis > Volume 53(2); 2002 > Article
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases 2002;53(2):173-182.
DOI:    Published online August 1, 2002.
Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Pulmonary Infection in Immunocompetent Patients.
Hyo Won Lee, Mi Na Kim, Tae Sun Shim, Gill Han Bai, Chik Hyun Pai
1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Korea.
2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Korea.
3Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, Seoul, Korea.
Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) have usually been considered to be contaminants or colonizers when isolated from respiratory specimens in Korea, where there is a high prevalence of tuberculosis and a low rate of HIV infections. Therefore, there has been few studies on the clinical significance of NTM in a pulmonary infection. In this study, the prevalence of pulmonary NTM and the clinical significance of NTM species in immunocompetent patients were investigated. METHOD: Thirty-five NTM isolates, for which species identification was requested by the treating physicians during 1999 at the Asan Medical Center, were retrospectively analyzed. They were identified to the species level by mycolic acid analysis using high-performance liquid chromatography. The medical records of the patients with the NTM isolates were reviewed to identify those patients who met the American Thoracic Society (ATS)'s criteria for mycobacterial pulmonary infection. Their antimicrobial susceptibility data were compared with the clinical outcomes. RESULTS: The NTM were identified as M. intracellulare (6 isolates), M. avium (5), M. abscessus (5), M. gordonae (5), M. terrae complex (4), M. szulgai (2), M. kansasii (2), M. fortuitum (2), M. peregrinum (1), M. mucogenicum (1), M. celatum (1), and M. chelonae (1). All 35 patients showed clinical symptoms and signs of chronic lung disease, but none had a HIV infections; 16 (45.7%) patients were found to be compatible with a NTM pulmonary infection according to the ATS criteria, 5 and 4 cases were affected with M. intracellulare and M. abscessus, respectively; 8 patients had a history of pulmonary tuberculosis. 13 patients received antimycobacterial therapy for an average of 21 months and 9 patients were treated with second-line drugs. Only 4 patients had improved radiologically. CONCLUSION: A NTM should be considered a potential pathogen of pulmonary infections in immunocompetent patients with chronic pulmonary diseases. Most NTM infections were left untreated for a prolonged period and showed a poor outcome as a result. M. intracellulare and M. abscessus were the two most frequent causes of NTM pulmonary infections in this study. Species identification and antimycobacterial susceptibility tests based on the species are needed for the optimum management of a NTM pulmonary infection in patients.
Key Words: Nontuberculous mycobacteria, Immunocompetent patients

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