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Abstract. Mycobacteria belonging to Mycobacterium (M.) avium complex (MAC) and M. abscessus complex (MABSC) are the most frequent causes of mycobacteriosis in the world. In the last few years MAC and MABSC taxonomy was rapidly changing due to new molecular methods conveying the possibility to differentiate between species. New techniques are able to identify M. chimaera that was previously recognized as M. intracellulare and also differentiate subspecies of MABSC. Due to their natural habitat, non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are constantly exposed to various concentrations of antimicrobial drugs and other chemicals and consequently they had developed different mechanisms of resistance. Macrolides and aminoglycosides are frequently used drugs to treat MAC and MABSC infections. The aim of our nation-wide survey was to obtain information about MABSC subspecies prevalence in Slovenia and to assess the percentage of misidentifications of M. chimaera isolates as M. intracellulare in the past. Moreover, the purpose of our study was to reveal, which of the two species M. intracellulare or M. chimaera is clinically more relevant in Slovenia. Further, the aim of the study was to detect mutations in erm(41), rrl and rrs genes, which are known to convey macrolide resistance (erm(41) and rrl) and aminoglycoside resistance (rrs). One hundred and thirty-two Slovenian mycobacterial isolates obtained from the National Mycobacterial Collection that belong to MAC and MABSC were analysed. GenoType NTM-DR was used to differentiate M. intracellulare from M. chimaera and subspecies of MABSC. Our results showed that 48% of previously identified M. intracellulare isolates were actually M. chimaera isolates and that M. abscessus subsp. abscessus was the most frequent subspecies of MABSC. Most of the MABSC isolates carried the inducible macrolide resistance genes (erm(41) and rrl), however none of the isolates of MAC and MABSC had mutations in rrs genes for aminoglycoside resistance.

About the authors

S. Truden

University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik, Golnik

Author for correspondence.

MSc, Analytics, National Reference Laboratory for Mycobacteria

Golnik 36, 4204 Golnik, Slovenia, National Reference Laboratory
Phone: +386 4 2569 409. Fax: +386 4 2569 117


M. Žolnir-Dovč

University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik, Golnik

PhD, Head of National Reference Laboratory for Mycobacteria Slovenia

E. Sodja

University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik, Golnik

PhD, Research Associate, National Reference Laboratory for Mycobacteria Slovenia

M. Starčič Erjavec

University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana

PhD, Full Professor for Molecular Biology, Teaching Assistant, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty Slovenia


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Copyright (c) 2018 Truden S., Žolnir-Dovč M., Sodja E., Starčič Erjavec M.

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