Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in solid organ transplant recipients: experience from a single center in China

Transplant Proc. 2008 Jun;40(5):1382-5. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2008.01.075.


Objective: We sought to explore the prevalence, clinical manifestations, diagnostic procedures, and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) after solid organ transplantation.

Patients and methods: In this study, we retrospectively analyzed data of 1947 renal transplant recipients and 85 liver transplant recipients.

Results: TB developed in 28 organ transplant recipients with a prevalence of 1.38% (28/2032). The median interval between transplantation and development of TB was 32 months (range, 1-142 months). Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolation, histologic signs of caseating granulomas, and TB-DNA detection directly supported the diagnosis in 10 (35.71%), 7 (25.00%), and 5 (17.86%) patients, respectively. In addition, 6 patients (21.43%) highly suspected of TB infection received tentative antituberculosis treatment with favorable responses. Most renal transplant recipients (22/25; 78.57%) received isoniazid, rifampicin (or rifabutin), and ethambutal (or pyrazinamide) for a mean duration of 10 months (range, 6-14 months). Three liver transplant recipients received a different protocol: isoniazid, rifabutin, ethambutal, and ofloxacin for 3 months; then isoniazid and rifabutin for 6 months. Upon follow-up, 8 subjects (28.57%) died; 5 of the deaths were related to TB. During the antituberculosis therapy, toxic hepatitis was seen in 12 patients (42.86%); cyclosporine levels decreased in 15 patients (53.57%); and allograft rejection developed in 6 of them.

Conclusions: The peak incidences of TB in liver and kidney transplantations are in the first year and after the first year posttransplantation, respectively. Response to antituberculosis treatment should be considered to make a diagnosis among patients highly suspected of TB infections. Except in special circumstances, antituberculosis treatment protocols including isoniazid and rifampicin for about 10 months seem significantly effective and tolerable for non-liver transplant patients. Fluoroquinolones should be emphasized in posttransplantation TB treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • China / epidemiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial