Analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the state of Texas for rifampin resistance using molecular beacons

Andrea S Bordt, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacillus known to cause disease in humans since ancient times, is the etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB). The infection is primarily pulmonary, although other organs may also be affected. The prevalence of pulmonary TB disease in the US is highest along the US-Mexico border, and of the four US states bordering Mexico, Texas had the second highest percentage of cases of TB disease among Mexico-born individuals in 1999 (CDC, 2001). Between the years of 1993 and 1998, the prevalence of drug-resistant (DR) TB was 9.1% among Mexican-born individuals and 4.4% among US-born individuals (CDC, 2001). In the same time period, the prevalence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB was 1.4% among Mexican-born individuals and 0.6% among US-born individuals (CDC, 2001). There is a renewed urgency in the quest for faster and more effective screening, diagnosis, and treatment methods for TB due to the resurgence of tuberculosis in the US during the mid-1980s and early 1990s (CDC, 2007a), and the emergence of drug-resistant, multidrug-resistant, and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis worldwide. Failure to identify DR and MDR-TB quickly leads to poorer treatment outcomes (CDC, 2007b). The recent rise in TB/HIV comorbidity further complicates TB control efforts. The gold standard for identification of DR-TB requires mycobacterial growth in culture, a technique taking up to three weeks, during which time DR/MDR-TB individuals harboring resistant organisms may be receiving inappropriate treatment. The goal of this study was to determine the sensitivity and specificity of real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) using molecular beacons in the Texas population. qPCR using molecular beacons is a novel approach to detect mycobacterial mutations conferring drug resistance. This technique is time-efficient and has been shown to have high sensitivity and specificity in several populations worldwide. Rifampin (RIF) susceptibility was chosen as the test parameter because strains of M. tuberculosis which are resistant to RIF are likely to also be MDR. Due to its status as a point of entry for many immigrants into the US, control efforts against TB and drug-resistant TB in Texas is a vital component of prevention efforts in the US as a whole. We show that qPCR using molecular beacons has high sensitivity and specificity when compared with culture (94% and 87%, respectively) and DNA sequencing (90% and 96%, respectively). We also used receiver operator curve analysis to calculate cutoff values for the objective determination of results obtained by qPCR using molecular beacons.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Bordt, Andrea S, "Analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the state of Texas for rifampin resistance using molecular beacons" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1450336.