Assessment of messenger RNA (mRNA) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a marker of cure in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis




To analyse the performance of RT-qPCR using 85B mRNA in the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and in the assessment of the response to treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).

Methods and Results

Ninety-eight patients with signs of pulmonary TB were selected: 56 were considered infected with Myco. tuberculosis and they had positive cultures or evident clinical response to anti-TB treatment. Patients with pulmonary tuberculosis were evaluated by culture and RT-qPCR for a 30-day specific treatment. It was found that both tests demonstrated a decline in viable bacilli at 15 and 30 days after the beginning of the therapy in most of the patients. The quantification of the 85B mRNA target was performed in 52 patients who had initially shown positive results by RT-qPCR and who were followed on the days 15 and 30 after the specific treatment. Thus 85B mRNA was detectable in sputum samples in 52 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis on day 0. During the specific treatment the 85B mRNA was detectable in 13 patients on day 15 and in only three patients on day 30.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis mRNA in the sputum is a useful prognostic marker and its quantification, an early and reliable indicator for monitoring response to treatment, drug resistance, re-infection and relapse.

Significance and Impact of the Study

RT-qPCR is a tool that can be used in clinical and therapeutic monitoring as an indicator of bacterial resistance and indicator of the period of transmissibility of Myco. tuberculosis in patients with pulmonary TB undergoing treatment.