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      Clinical characteristics and outcomes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease in adult patients with hematological malignancies

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          Diseases caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) among adult patients with hematological malignancies have rarely been investigated.


          Adult patients with hematological malignancies at National Taiwan University Hospital between 1996 and 2009 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with positive serology for HIV were excluded. TB disease is diagnosed by positive culture(s) in the presence of compatible symptoms and signs. The demographics, laboratory and, microbiological features, were analyzed in the context of clinical outcomes.


          Fifty-three of 2984 patients (1.78%) were diagnosed with TB disease. The estimated incidence was 120 per 100,000 adult patients with hematological malignancies. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia had a significantly higher incidence of TB disease than other subtypes of hematological malignancies (2.87% vs. 1.21%, p = 0.002, odds ratio, 2.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-4.41). Thirty-eight patients (72%) with non-disseminated pulmonary TB disease presented typically with mediastinal lymphadenopathy (53%), pleural effusion (47%) and fibrocalcific lesions (43%) on chest imaging. The 15 (28%) patients with extra-pulmonary disease had lower rates of defervescence within 72 h of empirical antimicrobial therapy (13% vs 45%, p = 0.03) and a higher 30-day in-hospital mortality (20% vs. 0%, p = 0.004) compared to those with disease confined to the lungs.


          TB disease is not uncommon among patients with hematological malignancies in Taiwan. Patients who received a diagnosis of extra-pulmonary TB suffered higher mortality than those with pulmonary TB alone. Clinicians should consider TB in the differential diagnoses of prolonged fever in patients with hematological malignancies, particularly in regions of high endemicity.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Neutrophil-mediated innate immune resistance to mycobacteria.

          Neutrophils contain antimicrobial peptides with antituberculous activity, but their contribution to immune resistance to tuberculosis (TB) infection has not been previously investigated to our knowledge. We determined differential white cell counts in peripheral blood of 189 adults who had come into contact with patients diagnosed with active TB in London, United Kingdom, and evaluated them for evidence of TB infection and capacity to restrict mycobacterial growth in whole-blood assays. Risk of TB infection was inversely and independently associated with peripheral blood neutrophil count in contacts of patients diagnosed with pulmonary TB. The ability of whole blood to restrict growth of Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette Guérin and Mycobacterium tuberculosis was impaired 7.3- and 3.1-fold, respectively, by neutrophil depletion. In microbiological media, human neutrophil peptides (HNPs) 1-3 killed M. tuberculosis. The neutrophil peptides cathelicidin LL-37 and lipocalin 2 restricted growth of the organism, the latter in an iron-dependent manner. Black African participants had lower neutrophil counts and lower circulating concentrations of HNP1-3 and lipocalin 2 than south Asian and white participants. Neutrophils contribute substantially to innate resistance to TB infection, an activity associated with their antimicrobial peptides. Elucidation of the regulation of neutrophil antimicrobial peptides could facilitate prevention and treatment of TB.
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            Tuberculosis is still a leading cause of death in low-income and middle-income countries, especially those of sub-Saharan Africa where tuberculosis is an epidemic because of the increased susceptibility conferred by HIV infection. The effectiveness of the Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine is partial, and that of treatment of latent tuberculosis is unclear in high-incidence settings. The routine diagnostic methods that are used in many parts of the world are still very similar to those used 100 years ago. Multidrug treatment, within the context of structured, directly observed therapy, is a cost-effective control strategy. Nevertheless, the duration of treatment needed reduces its effectiveness, as does the emergence of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant disease; the latter has recently become widespread. The rapid expansion of basic, clinical, and operational research, in addition to increasing knowledge of tuberculosis, is providing new diagnostic, treatment, and preventive measures. The challenge is to apply these advances to the populations most at risk. The development of a comprehensive worldwide plan to stop tuberculosis might facilitate this process by coordinating the work of health agencies. However, massive effort, political will, and resources are needed for this plan to succeed.
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              Serum concentrations of cytokines in patients with active tuberculosis (TB) and after treatment.

              During TB cytokines play a role in host defence. To determine the cytokine pattern during various disease stages of TB, serum levels of IL-12, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 were measured in 81 patients with active TB, 15 patients during therapy and 26 patients after anti-tuberculous therapy as well as in 16 persons who had been in close contact with smear-positive TB and in 17 healthy controls. IFN-gamma was elevated during active TB when compared with healthy controls, declining during and after treatment. IL-12 (p40 and p70) serum levels were not significantly higher in patients with active TB compared with any of the other groups. IL-4 levels were low in all groups. IL-6 and IL-10 serum levels were elevated in patients with active TB and during treatment. In patients with active TB serum levels of IFN-gamma and IL-6 were higher in patients with fever, anorexia and malaise. IL-12 levels were higher in patients with a positive smear. Cytokine levels did not correlate with localization of TB (pulmonary versus extrapulmonary), or skin test positivity. Cytokines directing a Th1 response (IL-12) or a Th2 response (IL-4) were not elevated in sera of this large group of patients with pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB. In patients with active TB, cytokines that were elevated in serum were IFN-gamma, IL-6 and IL-10.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central
                23 November 2011
                : 11
                : 324
                [1 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
                [2 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious disease, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
                [3 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Chest, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
                [4 ]Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, No. 7, Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan
                Copyright ©2011 Chen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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