Nontuberculous mycobacteria in cystic fibrosis. An autopsy study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Aug;154(2 Pt 1):523-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.154.2.8756832.


We retrospectively studied lung and hilar lymph nodes at autopsy in 18 patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) who had antemortem sputum cultures positive for nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). Histologic features were compared with those of 18 patients with CF who had negative antemortem cultures. The most frequent species isolated was M. chelonae group (10 patients). Multiple cultures were positive for NTM in six patients. Three patients were clinically considered to be infected, and two received antimycobacteria drugs. Necrotizing pulmonary granulomas associated with granulomatous organizing pneumonia were found at autopsy in two patients, each of whom had multiple positive sputum cultures and clinical evidence of infection. In one of these, mycobacterial infection was considered to be an important factor in her terminal illness. Neither necrotizing granulomas nor granulomatous organizing pneumonia were seen in the lung tissue of patients whose antemortem cultures were negative for mycobacteria. There was no difference in the prevalence of other granuloma-like lesions between those with and those without positive sputum cultures. No mycobacteria-related granulomas occurred in hilar lymph nodes, although histoplasma granulomas involved hilar lymph nodes of three patients. We conclude that granulomatous mycobacterial lung disease is present in a minority of patients (two of six patients in this study) who have multiple positive cultures. Histologic evidence of infection was not found in patients who had only one of multiple sputum cultures positive for NTM.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology*
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / pathology*
  • Mycobacterium chelonae / isolation & purification
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / pathology*