Diagnosis of local hepatic tuberculosis through next-generation sequencing: Smarter, faster and better

Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol. 2018 Jun;42(3):178-181. doi: 10.1016/j.clinre.2018.04.007.


Background: A 45-year-old man who complained of continuous fever and multiple hepatic masses was admitted to our hospital. Repeated MRI manifestations were similar while each radiological report suggested contradictory diagnosis pointing to infections or malignances respectively. Pathologic examination of the liver tissue showed no direct evidence of either infections or tumor. We performed next-generation sequencing on the liver tissue and peripheral blood to further investigate the possible etiology.

Methods: High throughput sequencing was performed on the liver lesion tissues using BGISEQ-100 platform, and data was mapped to the Microbial Genome Databases after filtering low quality data and human reads.

Results: We identified a total of 299 sequencing reads of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) complex sequences from the liver tissue, including 8, 229 of 4,424,435 of the M. tuberculosis nucleotide sequences, and Mycobacterium africanum, Mycobacterium bovis, and Mycobacterium canettii were also detected due to the 99.9% identical rate among these strains. No specific Mycobacterial tuberculosis nucleotide sequence was detected in the sample of peripheral blood. Patient's symptom quickly recovered after anti-tuberculosis treatment and repeated Ziehl-Neelsen staining of the liver tissue finally identified small numbers of positive bacillus.

Conclusions: The diagnosis of this patient was difficult to establish before the next-generation sequencing because of contradictive radiological results and negative pathological findings. More sensitive diagnostic methods are urgently needed. This is the first case reporting hepatic tuberculosis confirmed by the next-generation sequencing, and marks the promising potential of the application of the next-generation sequencing in the diagnosis of hepatic lesions with unknown etiology.

Keywords: Hepatic masses; Hepatic tuberculosis; Mycobacterium Tuberculosis; Next-generation sequencing.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis, Hepatic / diagnosis*