Ethambutol resistance testing by mutation detection
OBJECTIVE: To identify chromosomal mutations that confer resistance to ethambutol (EMB) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. DESIGN: Drug-resistant (n = 235) and drug-susceptible (n = 117) M. tuberculosis isolates collected from the Western Cape in South Africa were subjected to embB gene analysis and the results were compared to phenotypic EMB testing. RESULTS: Genotypic analysis identified mutations at codon 306 of the embB gene in 20% (47/235) of the resistant isolates in comparison to only 1.7% (4/235) of those that were phenotypically resistant to EMB by the agar diffusion method. No gene mutations were detected in susceptible isolates. Phenotypic retesting in BACTEC demonstrated that the 47 genotypically resistant isolates were phenotypically resistant to EMB. This implies that 91.4% (43/47) of EMB resistance had been phenotypically missed by routine laboratory procedures. EMB resistance was closely linked to multidrug resistance (MDR); 87.2% (41/47) of the EMB-resistant isolates were resistant to both isoniazid and rifampicin. A newly developed one-step amplification refractory mutation system polymerase chain reaction (ARMS-PCR) method correctly detected the EMB-resistant genotype. CONCLUSION: Implementation of more accurate diagnosis of EMB resistance may enhance patient management in South Africa, as standardised treatment of MDR-TB with second-line drugs is currently dependent on the outcome of the EMB resistance test. © 2006 The Union.