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Infectious Diseases - Microbiology - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine

Increased Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing Genotype Strains Associated with Resistance to Streptomycin: A Population-Based Study
Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
Author: Tran N. Buu et al.

by Tran N. Buu, Dick van Soolingen, Mai N. T. Huyen, Nguyen T. N. Lan, Hoang T. Quy, Edine W. Tiemersma, Kristin Kremer, Martien W. Borgdorff, Frank G. J. Cobelens


Studies have shown that the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing genotype is an emerging pathogen that is frequently associated with drug resistance. This suggests that drug resistant Beijing strains have a relatively high transmission fitness compared to other drug-resistant strains.

Methods and Findings

We studied the relative transmission fitness of the Beijing genotype in relation to anti-tuberculosis drug resistance in a population-based study of smear-positive tuberculosis patients prospectively recruited and studied over a 4-year period in rural Vietnam. Transmission fitness was analyzed by clustering of cases on basis of three DNA typing methods. Of 2531 included patients, 2207 (87%) were eligible for analysis of whom 936 (42%) were in a DNA fingerprint cluster. The clustering rate varied by genotype with 292/786 (37%) for the Beijing genotype, 527/802 (67%) for the East-African Indian (EAI) genotype, and 117/619 (19%) for other genotypes. Clustering was associated with the EAI compared to the Beijing genotype (adjusted odds ratio (ORadj) 3.4: 95% CI 2.8–4.4). Patients infected with streptomycin-resistant strains were less frequently clustered than patients infected with streptomycin-susceptible strains when these were of the EAI genotype (ORadj 0.6, 95% CI 0.4–0.9), while this pattern was reversed for strains of the Beijing genotype (ORadj 1.3, 95% CI 1.0–1.8, p for difference 0.002). The strong association between Beijing and MDR-TB (ORadj 7.2; 95% CI 4.2–12.3) existed only if streptomycin resistance was present.


Beijing genotype strains showed less overall transmissibility than EAI strains, but when comparisons were made within genotypes, Beijing strains showed increased transmission fitness when streptomycin-resistant, while the reverse was observed for EAI strains. The association between MDR-TB and Beijing genotype in this population was strongly dependent on resistance to streptomycin. Streptomycin resistance may provide Beijing strains with a fitness advantage over other genotypes and predispose to multidrug resistance in patients infected with Beijing strains.