Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Microbiology


Geisel School of Medicine


Invasive infection with organisms of the Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is common among patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus infection. In previous studies, we analyzed multiple individual colonies of MAC isolated from specimens obtained at the same time and observed that 14 to 20% of patients are simultaneously infected with more than one strain. In this study, we examined sequential isolates from 12 patients with AIDS who had two or more MAC isolates available from clinical specimens collected more than 1 week apart; the intervals between the first and last specimens ranged from 8 to 192 (median, 46) days. For each isolate, restriction digests of genomic DNA were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; DNA was prepared by using a protocol, described here in detail, which had been optimized for conditions of bacterial growth and lysis. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis identified four patients (33%) infected with two different MAC strains. Both M. avium and M. intracellulare were cultured from blood specimens from two patients. In each of the four patients, the second strain was identified from a culture taken within 14 days of the initial study isolate, and in three of these patients, the first strain was detected again in a subsequent culture. These observations suggest that the presence of two different strains among isolates from sequential cultures may reflect ongoing polyclonal infection. We conclude that polyclonal infection with MAC is common among patients with AIDS. The identification of such infections may be critical in the development of effective treatments.

Original Citation

Slutsky AM, Arbeit RD, Barber TW, et al. Polyclonal infections due to Mycobacterium avium complex in patients with AIDS detected by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of sequential clinical isolates. J Clin Microbiol. 1994;32(7):1773-1778. doi:10.1128/JCM.32.7.1773-1778.1994