Polymerase chain reaction for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA in tissue and assessment of its utility in the diagnosis of hepatic granulomas

J Lab Clin Med. 1996 Apr;127(4):359-63. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2143(96)90184-5.


A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the rapid identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, based on amplification of the IS6110 insertion sequences, was tested in paraffin-embedded tissue from 64 biopsy samples with either positive or negative cultures for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The utility of this PCR assay in the diagnosis of tuberculosis among patients with hepatic granulomas (HGs) was then tested by examining 43 liver biopsy samples. They were classified as either having definitive or probable tuberculosis or as being of nontuberculous origin, on the basis of clinical and microbiologic data and on their response to antituberculous treatment. PCR was 100% sensitive in the diagnosis of culture-positive M. tuberculosis infection in the lymph node, lung, and liver. The sensitivity of the PCR in the diagnosis of HG of definitive tuberculous origin was 58%, and the specificity was 96%. PCR is a valuable test for the demonstration of mycobacterial DNA in tissues. Although it is not highly sensitive, the DNA amplification method may also be more sensitive than culture in the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis-associated HG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biopsy
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Granuloma / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification*
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Hepatic / diagnosis*


  • DNA, Bacterial