Mycobacterium abscessus: Environmental Bacterium Turned Clinical Nightmare


Mycobacteria are a large family of over 100 species, most of which do not cause diseases in humans. The majority of the mycobacterial species are referred to as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), meaning they are not the causative agent of tuberculous (TB) or leprosy, i.e., Mycobacterium tuberculous complex and Mycobacterium leprae, respectively. The latter group is undoubtedly the most infamous, with TB infecting an estimated 10 million people and causing over 1.2 million deaths in 2017 alone TB and leprosy also differ from NTM in that they are only transmitted from person to person and have no environmental reservoir, whereas NTM infections are commonly acquired from the environment. It took until the 1950′s for NTM to be recognised as a potential lung pathogen in people with underlying pulmonary disease and another three decades for NTM to be widely regarded by the medical community when Mycobacterium avium complex was identified as the most common group of opportunistic pathogens in AIDS patients. This review focuses on an emerging NTM called Mycobacterium abscessus (M. abs). M. abs is a rapidly growing NTM that is responsible for opportunistic pulmonary infections in patients with structural lung disorders such as cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis, as well as a wide range of skin and soft tissue infections in humans. In this review, we discuss how we came to understand the pathogen, how it is currently treated and examine drug resistance mechanisms and novel treatments currently in development. We highlight the urgent need for new and effective treatments for M. abs infection as well as improved in vivo methods of efficacy testing.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Biosciences
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Uncontrolled Keywords: Antimicrobial drug discovery,Cystic fibrosis,Mycobacterium abscessus,Non-tuberculous mycobacteria,Microbiology,Virology,Microbiology (medical)
Publication ISSN: 2076-2607
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2023 08:23
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2019 08:32
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.mdp ... 076-2607/7/3/90 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Review article
Published Date: 2019-03-22
Accepted Date: 2019-03-19
Authors: Lopeman, Rose C.
Harrison, James
Desai, Maya
Cox, Jonathan A. G. (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5208-4056)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

| Preview

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record