Other slow-growing nontuberculous mycobacteria

Marvin J. Bittner, Laurel C. Preheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The list of clinically important slow-growing nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) continues to expand as new species are identified and older ones are found to be pathogenic. Based on pigment production, the strains may be classified as photochromogenic, scotochromogenic, or unpigmented. Some of these organisms are not newly discovered but have heretofore been considered virtually nonpathogenic. Previously, many were regarded as contaminants when isolated from clinical specimens. Ubiquitous in nature, many NTM have been isolated from groundwater or tap water, soil, house dust, domestic and wild animals, and birds. Most infections result from inhalation or direct inoculation from environmental sources. They are not spread from person to person. The infections may be localized or disseminated. In most cases, the optimal regimen or duration of therapy has not been firmly established. The results of in vitro susceptibility testing may be used to select a therapeutic regimen. Many experts recommend clarithromycin with companion drugs such as rifampin and ethambutol for most, but not all, slowly growing species. Aminoglycosides, clofazimine, fluoroquinolones, linezolid, pyrazinamide, or trimethoprimsulfamethoxazole also may be effective against some strains. Immunocompetent patients with clinically significant infections with NTM usually should receive 18 to 24 months of therapy. Infected immunocompromised patients, particularly those with disseminated infection, probably should receive therapy as long as their immune systems remain impaired. Some of the species discussed include Mycobacterium alsiense, M. celatum, M. gordonae, M. haemophilum, M. kyorinense, M. malmoense, M. simiae complex, M. szulgai, M. terrae complex, M. ulcerans, and M. xenopi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberTNMI7-0012-2016
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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