Evaluation of Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease in women

Tracie J Gardner, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is a ubiquitous organism responsible for most pulmonary and disseminated disease caused by non-tuberculosis (NTM) mycobacteria. Though MAC lung disease without predisposing factors is uncommon, in recent years it has been increasingly described in middle-aged and elderly women. Recognition and correct diagnosis, is often delayed due to the indolent nature of the disease. It is unclear if these women have significant clinical disease as or if their airways are simply colonized by the bacterium. This study describes the clinical presentation, identifies risk factors, and describes the clinical significance of MAC lung disease in HIV-negative women aged 50 or greater. A hybrid study design utilizing both cross-sectional and case-control methodologies was used. A comparison population was selected from previously identified tuberculosis suspects found throughout Harris County. The study population had at least one acid fast bacillus pulmonary culture performed between 1/1/1998 and 12/31/2000 from a pulmonary source. Clinical presentation and symptoms were analyzed using a cross-sectional design. Past medical history and other risk factors were evaluated using a traditional case-control study design. Differences in categorical variables were estimated with the Chi Square or Fisher's Exact test as appropriate. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were utilized to evaluate associations. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify predictive factors for MAC. All statistical tests were two-sided and P-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant. Culture confirmed MAC pulmonary cases were more likely to be white, have bronchiectasis, scoliosis, evidence of cavitation and pleural changes on chest radiography and granulomas on histopathologic examination than women whose pulmonary cultures were AFB negative. After controlling for selected risk factors, white race continued to be significantly associated with MAC lung disease (OR = 4.6, 95% CI = 2.3, 9.2). In addition, asthma history, smoking history and alcohol use were less likely to be evident among MAC cases in a multivariate analysis. Right upper and right middle lobe disease was further noted among clinically significant cases. Based on population data, MAC lung disease appears to represent a significant clinical syndrome in HIV-negative women thus supporting the theory of the Lady Windermere Syndrome.

Subject Area

Public health|Pathology

Recommended Citation

Gardner, Tracie J, "Evaluation of Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease in women" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3143616.