Mycobacterium abscessus bacteremia after receipt of intravenous infusate of cytokine-induced killer cell therapy for body beautification and health boosting

Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Oct;57(7):981-91. doi: 10.1093/cid/cit443. Epub 2013 Jul 3.


Background: We report the first series of Mycobacterium abscessus bacteremia after cytokine-induced killer cell therapy for body beautification and health boosting.

Methods: The clinical manifestations, laboratory and radiological investigations, cytokine/chemokine profiles, and outcomes were described and analyzed.

Results: Four patients were admitted, and 3 patients had septic shock. Chest radiographs showed pulmonary infiltrates in all patients. Three patients developed peripheral gangrene, and 1 patient required lower limb and finger amputations. Patient 1 also developed disseminated infection including meningitis and urinary tract infection. Postmortem examination of patient 1 showed focal areas of pulmonary hemorrhage and diffuse alveolar damage, splenic infarct, adrenal necrosis, and hemorrhage, and acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were seen in the lung, liver, kidney, and adrenal gland. Patient 2 developed inguinal granulomatous lymphadenitis about 40 days after onset of lower limb gangrene. Wedge-shaped pulmonary infarcts were found in patient 3, and retinitis and subcutaneous lesions developed in patient 4. Patients in septic shock had dysregulated cytokine/chemokine profiles. Patient 4 with relatively milder presentation had increasing levels of interleukin 17 and cytokines in the interferon-γ/interleukin 12 pathway. All survivors required prolonged intravenous antibiotics. Blood cultures grew M. abscessus for all patients, and admission peripheral blood smear revealed AFB for 3 patients. Mycobacterium abscessus was also isolated from respiratory specimens (2 patients), urine (1 patient), and cerebrospinal fluid (1 patient). Time to initial blood culture positivity (patients 1, 2, and 3: ≤52 hours; patient 4: 83 hours) appeared to correlate with disease severity.

Conclusions: Empirical coverage for rapidly growing mycobacteria should be considered in patients with sepsis following cosmetic procedures.

Keywords: Mycobacterium abscessus; bacteremia; beauty; cytokine-induced killer cell therapy; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / immunology*
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Cosmetic Techniques / adverse effects*
  • Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells / immunology*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Gangrene / immunology
  • Gangrene / microbiology
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / microbiology
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / immunology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents