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Detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in corneas from donors with active tuberculosis disease through polymerase chain reaction and culture
  1. E J Catedral1,
  2. R E Santos1,
  3. M D B Padilla2,3,
  4. C Fajardo-Ang4
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, East Avenue Medical Center, East Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital, Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines
  3. 3Sta. Lucia International Eye Bank
  4. 4Medical Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines
  1. Correspondence to Eva J Catedral, 1700 A UP Singalong Street, Malate, Manila, Philippines 1004; jurajover{at}


Objective To determine if Mycobacterium tuberculosis can be detected in corneas of donors who have active tuberculosis (TB) disease using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or culture.

Design This is a prospective cross-sectional study.

Participants 25 corneas (12 from TB-negative donors and 13 from TB-positive donors) from the Sta. Lucia International Eye Bank were submitted to the TB Research Laboratory, Medical Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, UP-PGH, for diagnostic evaluation.

Intervention Corneas were evaluated using PCR test for M tuberculosis. Acid-fast bacilli smear and culture were also done.

Main outcome measures Result of laboratory findings.

Results Among 12 TB-negative donors, there were 2 (16.67%) corneas that were PCR negative for M tuberculosis, whereas 10 (83.33%) corneas were PCR positive for M tuberculosis. Among 13 TB-positive donors, there were 7 (53.85%) corneas that were PCR negative for M tuberculosis, whereas 6 (46.15%) corneas were PCR positive for M tuberculosis. All cultures were negative.

Conclusion PCR for M tuberculosis was positive for some TB-positive donors as well as TB-negative donors. However, all cultures were negative. It is recommended that further studies be done to investigate if recipients with PCR-positive corneas will eventually lead to disease transmission or not. It is further recommended that such findings be used to re-evaluate criteria for suitability of donors with tuberculosis.

  • Cornea
  • pathology
  • eye (tissue) banking
  • tuberculosis
  • PCR

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the institutional/ethics review board of the East Avenue Medical Center.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.