Original Article

Ann Lab Med 2014; 34(1): 31-37

Published online January 1, 2014

Copyright © Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine.

The Drug Resistance Profile of Mycobacterium abscessus Group Strains from Korea

Seung Heon Lee, Ph.D.1, Hee Kyung Yoo, M.S.1, Seol Hee Kim, B.S.1, Won-Jung Koh, M.D.2, Chang Ki Kim, M.D.1, Young Kil Park, Ph.D.1, and Hee Jin Kim, M.D.1

Korean Institute of Tuberculosis1, Chengwon; Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine2, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to: Seung Heon Lee
Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, 168-5 Osongsaegmyeong 4-ro, Chengwon 363-954, Korea
Tel: +82-43-249-4943
Fax: +82-43-249-4965

Received: June 13, 2013; Revised: July 9, 2013; Accepted: August 5, 2013

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Bacteria of the Mycobacterium abscessus group are the second most common pathogens responsible for lung disease caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria in Korea. There is still a lack of studies investigating the genetic mechanisms involved in a resistance to antibiotics other than clarithromycin. This study investigated the characteristics of drug resistance exhibited by M. abscessus clinical isolates from Korea. Methods: We performed drug susceptibility testing for a total of 404 M. abscessus clinical strains. Subspecies were differentiated by molecular biological methods and examined for mutations in drug resistance-related genes. Results: Of the 404 strains examined, 202 (50.00%), 199 (49.26%), and 3 (0.74%) strains were identified as M. abscessus, M. massiliense, and M. bolletii, respectively. Of the 152 clarithromycin-resistant strains, 6 possessed rrl mutations, while 4 of the 30 amikacin-resistant strains contained rrs mutations, and 5 of the 114 quinolone-resistant strains had gyr mutations. All mutant strains had high minimal inhibitory concentration values for the antibiotics. Conclusions: Our results showed the distribution of the strains with mutations in drug resistance-related genes was low in the M. abscessus group. Furthermore, we performed drug susceptibility testing and sequence analyses to determine the characteristics of these genes in the M. abscessus group.

Keywords: Mycobacterium abscessus group, Drug resistance, Mutation