Background: Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains belonging to the W-Beijing family have received broad clinical and public health attention because of their rapid worldwide spread and their frequent association with outbreaks, multidrug resistance, and treatment failures and relapses.
Methods: The present study examined a large number of multidrug-resistant strain-W isolates (isolates of 29 patients) by susceptibility testing for pyrazinamide (PZA) using the reference BACTEC 460TB method (Becton Dickinson Diagnostic Instrument Systems; Sparks, MD) and also by DNA sequencing of the pncA gene.
Results: We found that despite of the presence of a strain W-specific Thr47Ala in the pncA gene, all strains showed susceptibility to PZA in the reference BACTEC 460TB system due to their higher minimum inhibitory concentrations (relative to BACTEC 460TB PZA-susceptible strains).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the current radiometric reference method cannot reproducibly detect PZA resistance in patients infected with W-Beijing strains. Therefore, PZA susceptibility testing should instead be based on analysis of the pncA gene for resistance-associated mutations.