Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA in calcified pleura from remains 1400 years old

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA was isolated and identified in calcified pleura from remains 1400 years old, with the polymerase chain reaction. This is the first demonstration of tuberculosis in non-mummified archaeological tissue other than bone; the presence of mycobacterial mycolic acids in the sample supports this conclusion. The study of ancient DNA from microbial pathogens is of interest as it enables verification of traditional diagnoses, may answer long-standing questions in the history of disease, and provides ancient DNA sequences that can be compared with those of modern isolates.

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