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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED KINGDOM: Researchers Find a Link Between Ethnicity and Tuberculosis


Counsel & Heal External Web Site Policy, (07.04.2013)

A study in the United Kingdom found that people of European and Asian descents had different genetic TB markers compared with people of African descent. All of the participants were living in the United Kingdom. Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London and the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) recruited 128 recently diagnosed TB patients. The patients included 45 Africans, 27 Europeans, 55 Asians, and one of mixed European and Asian descent. When the researchers analyzed levels of inflammatory markers measured in blood samples taken prior to treatment, they noted differences in the patients’ immune system responses to TB infection. The researchers found that genetic markers caused the differences among European, Asian, and African participants rather than the strain of TB bacteria. After eight weeks of treatment, the researchers analyzed blood samples of 85 patients from the original cohort. Results showed that after treatment, ethnic variance was more marked than before. Dr. Anna Coussens of NIMR noted that the findings have implications for developing new diagnostic tests that analyze immune response and for identifying candidate biomarkers to measure response to treatment. The researchers believe that the ethnic variance may be tied to a protein that binds to vitamin D. They suggested that results could be helpful in developing targeted TB drug treatments. The full report, “Ethnic Variation in Inflammatory Profile in Tuberculosis,” was published online in the journal PLOS Pathogens (2013; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003468).


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Information in this article was accurate in July 8, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.