Rapid and precise diagnosis of disseminated T.marneffei infection assisted by high-throughput sequencing of multifarious specimens in a HIV-negative patient: a case report

BMC Infect Dis. 2018 Aug 7;18(1):379. doi: 10.1186/s12879-018-3276-5.


Background: Talaromyces marneffei, is an opportunistic pathogenic fungus that is most commonly reported in Southeast Asia and disseminated T.marneffei infection predominantly occurs in patients with immunodeficiency. With a potential to invade multiple organs, it can be fatal for patients if diagnosis and treatment are delayed. In current clinical practice, the diagnosis of T.marneffei infection relies heavily on tissue culture and histologic analysis, which may suffer from limited positive rate and is sometimes time consuming. The rapid and accurate diagnosis of disseminated T.marneffei infection remains challenging.

Case presentation: A 22-year-old man gradually developed fever, cough, lower extremities weakness, jaundice and rash, for which a 3-month extensive investigation failed to reach a diagnosis. After admitted into our hospital, laboratory and radiological tests revealed multiple lesions in the patient's brain, spinal cord, and lungs. We performed next generation sequencing on the patient's skin tissue, bone marrow, blood and cerebrospinal fluid, which all identified numerous Talaromyces marneffei nucleotide sequences and leaded to the rapid diagnosis and treatment of disseminated T.marneffei infection.

Conclusions: This case underline the clinical significance of T.marneffei as a possible pathogen in immune-competent patients. This successful application of the next generation sequencing assisting the rapid diagnosis of disseminated T.marneffei infection provides a new perspective in the clinical approach to the systematic fungi infections and highlights the potential of this technique in rapid etiological diagnosis.

Keywords: Fungi; High throughput sequencing; Next generation sequencing; Sterile body fluids; Talaromyces marneffei.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Early Diagnosis
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays* / methods
  • Humans
  • Invasive Fungal Infections / diagnosis*
  • Invasive Fungal Infections / microbiology
  • Male
  • Penicillium / genetics
  • Penicillium / isolation & purification
  • Penicillium / pathogenicity
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Talaromyces / genetics*
  • Talaromyces / isolation & purification*
  • Talaromyces / pathogenicity
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult