Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis and tuberculosis epidemiology

Bull Pan Am Health Organ. 1995 Sep;29(3):226-36.


In order to study polymorphisms of the DNA insertion sequence 6110 (IS6110) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains isolated from Colombian patients, together with resistance to antituberculous medications in the Department of Quindío, Colombia, a prospective study was conducted using a consecutive sample of 59 patients with symptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis whose cases had been confirmed by bacilloscopy, both with and without a history of treatment. The patients, who were participating in the Tuberculosis Control Program of the Regional Health Institute of Quindío in Armenia, included all individuals attending local health centers and hospitals between March and July 1993 who were referred to the regional institute. Sputum specimens from each patient were cultured and subjected to drug sensitivity tests. Subsequently, restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) of IS6110 from 27 patients were analyzed. The patients' treatment histories were used to classify their cases according to WHO criteria. Forty-five cultures were found positive, 44 for M. tuberculosis and 1 for M. africanum. Initial drug resistance was observed in 4 of 42 new cases, or 9.5% (95% CI: 0.6, 18), 2 showing resistance to isoniazid (INH) and 2 to isoniazid plus streptomycin (INH-SM). Acquired resistance was observed in 2 of the 3 chronic cases and relapses, the bacteria being resistant to isoniazid, rifampicin, and streptomycin (INH-RM-SM) in one case and to isoniazid, ethambutol, rifampicin, and streptomycin (INH-EMB-RM-SM) in the other. In those 27 strains subjected to RFLP analysis, the number of copies of IS6110 ranged from 6 to 17. Similarity coefficients revealed five distinct groups of strains. Overall, the RFLP analysis permitted most of the strains to be distinguished from one another, implying that the polymorphisms involved are sufficient to permit effective employment of this technique, which appears to have considerable potential for use in epidemiologic studies and in work designed to provide a basis for tuberculosis control program decision-making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping / methods
  • Colombia / epidemiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / genetics
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial