Rationale: Mycobacterium massiliense has been recognized as a separate species from Mycobacterium abscessus; however, little is known regarding the clinical impact of this differentiation.
Objectives: To compare clinical features and treatment outcomes between patients with M. abscessus lung disease and those with M. massiliense lung disease.
Methods: We performed molecular identification of stored clinical isolates of M. abscessus complex and compared clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes between 64 patients with M. abscessus lung disease and 81 patients with M. massiliense lung disease.
Measurements and main results: The clinical and radiographic manifestations of disease caused by each species were similar. Standardized combination antibiotic therapy, including a clarithromycin-containing regimen in combination with an initial 4-week course of cefoxitin and amikacin, was given to 57 patients (24 with M. abscessus and 33 with M. massiliense) for more than 12 months. The proportion of patients with sputum conversion and maintenance of negative sputum cultures was higher in patients with M. massiliense infection (88%) than in those with M. abscessus infection (25%; P < 0.001). Inducible resistance to clarithromycin (minimal inhibitory concentrations ≥ 32 μg/ml) was found in all tested M. abscessus isolates (n = 19), but in none of the M. massiliense isolates (n = 28).
Conclusions: Treatment response rates to combination antibiotic therapy including clarithromycin were much higher in patients with M. massiliense lung disease than in those with M. abscessus lung disease. The inducible resistance to clarithromycin could explain the lack of efficacy of clarithromycin-containing antibiotic therapy against M. abscessus lung disease.