Mycolic acids and ancient {DNA} confirm an osteological diagnosis of tuberculosis

Gernaey, A. M. and Minnikin, D. E. and Copley, M. S. and Dixon, R. A. and Middleton, J. C. and Roberts, C. A. (2001) Mycolic acids and ancient {DNA} confirm an osteological diagnosis of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, 81 (4). 259 - 265. ISSN 1472-9792

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Setting: The underlying trends in the past epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) are obscure, requiring recourse to the archaeological record. It would therefore be of value to develop methods for reliable {TB} diagnosis in ancient populations. Objective: To test the capability of two biomarkers, Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex mycolic acids and a {DNA} target (IS 6110), for confirming an osteological diagnosis of {TB} in medieval individuals, based on the presence of Pott's disease and/or rib lesions. Design: Osteological examination of three archaeological individuals (Medieval: �1000 years old) revealed a Pott's disease case, one with no changes consistent with {TB} and one with rib lesions. Rib samples from these individuals were examined for the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex mycolic acids and mycobacterial DNA. Results:Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex mycolic acids and the {DNA} target were detected in the Pott's disease case, whilst mycolic acids (insufficient for confirmation) alone were detected in the rib lesion case. Conclusions: Biomarkers provide a sensitive tool to detect ancient TB. Mycobacterium tuberculosis {DNA} is not distributed homogeneously, making multiple sampling essential. Mycolic acids seem more reliable for ancient {TB} diagnosis than {IS} 6110. The demonstrated stability of mycolic acids show that they may be of value in tracing the palaeoepidemiology of tuberculosis back into antiquity.

Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:12811
Deposited On:03 Jan 2014 16:01

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