Quantitative 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Assay for the Rapid Detection of Pyrazinamide Resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis from Sputum Samples

Juan M. Lopez, Mirko Zimic, Katherine Vallejos, Diego Sevilla, Mariella Quispe-Carbajal, Elisa Roncal, Joseline Rodríguez, Jhojailith Rodríguez, Ricardo Antiparra, Héctor Arteaga, Robert H. Gilman, Helena Maruenda, Patricia Sheen

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Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is one of the 10 leading killer diseases in the world. At least one-quarter of the population has been infected, and there are 1.3 million deaths annually. The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains challenges TB treatments. One of the drugs widely used in first- and second-line regimens is pyrazinamide (PZA). Statistically, 50% of MDR and 90% of XDR clinical strains are resistant to PZA, and recent studies have shown that its use in patients with PZA-resistant strains is associated with higher mortality rates. Therefore, the is an urgent need for the development of an accurate and efficient PZA susceptibility assay. PZA crosses the M. tuberculosis membrane and is hydrolyzed to its active form, pyrazinoic acid (POA), by a nicotinamidase encoded by the pncA gene. Up to 99% of clinical PZA-resistant strains have mutations in this gene, suggesting that this is the most likely mechanism of resistance. However, not all pncA mutations confer PZA resistance, only the ones that lead to limited POA production. Therefore, susceptibility to PZA may be addressed simply by its ability to form, or not, POA. Here, we present a nuclear magnetic resonance method to accurately quantify POA directly in the supernatant of sputum cultures collected from TB patients. The ability of the clinical sputum culture to hydrolyze PZA was determined, and the results were correlated with the results of other biochemical and molecular PZA drug susceptibility assays. The excellent sensitivity and specificity values attained suggest that this method could become the new gold standard for the determination of PZA susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • antibiotic resistance
  • clinical trial
  • drug susceptibility test
  • nuclear magnetic resonance
  • pyrazinamide
  • tuberculosis


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