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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A first insight into the genotypic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from Rwanda

James Gafirita13, Alaine N Umubyeyi2 and Benon B Asiimwe3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Laboratory Biomedical Sciences, Kigali Health Institute, P O Box 3286, Kigali, Rwanda

2 Department of Science, National University of Rwanda, P O Box 56, Butare, Rwanda

3 Department of Medical Microbiology, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, P O Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2012, 12:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-12-20

Published: 6 November 2012



Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) is the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). Globally, increasing evidence shows that in M. tuberculosis, transmission varies from strain to strain and that different strains exhibit a range of geographical and host specificities, pathogenicity, and drug susceptibility. Therefore rapid and accurate differentiation of the members of MTC is critical in guiding treatment and public health decisions. We carried out a study at different health units and the National Reference Laboratory in Rwanda identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex species prevalent in TB patients in Rwanda. We further characterized the isolates using spoligotyping in order to gain an insight into the strain diversity of drug resistant and susceptible isolates of M. tuberculosis in this setting.


A total of 151 isolates from culture positive sputum samples were harvested, heat killed at 80°C for two hours, and then shipped to Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Uganda, for speciation and typing. Species identification was achieved by regions of difference (RD) analysis, while Spoligotyping was done to identify strain types.


Region of difference analysis identified all the 151 isolates as M. tuberculosis. Spoligotyping revealed predominance of the T2 family (58.3%, 88/151), with SIT 52 being the most prevalent strain (31.8%, 48/151). Among the 151 isolates, 64 (42.4%) were multidrug resistant (MDR) with 3 cases on mono-resistance. Of 94 retreatment cases, 48 (51.1%) were MDR and of 46 newly presenting cases 14 (30.4%) were MDR. There was a significant difference (p=0.01) in anti-TB drug resistance between new and retreatment cases in the sample. However, there was no significant relationship between HIV serostatus and the two major strain types SIT 52 (p =0.15and SIT 152 (p = 0.41).


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most prevalent species of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in Rwanda, and SIT 52 (T2) the predominant strain. There is significantly more MDR in the retreatment cases but no significant difference was observed by HIV status in relation to any spoligotypes.