A recent study has revealed the importance of monitoring transplant donors and recipients for Mycoplasma hominis infections.

Mycoplasma hominis colonies

M. hominis is a species of bacteria able to infect and penetrate the interior of human cells. It is notoriously difficult to test for and resistant to most antibiotics. In transplant recipients, M. hominis infections can lead to pleurisy, surgical site infection and tissue inflammation in the chest. As the pathogen is typically found in the genitourinary tract, it was unknown how heart and lung transplant recipients were acquiring this specific species of bacteria.

A study by the Mayo Clinic detailed evidence to suggest that transplant recipients are acquiring M. hominis infections from their donors. Firstly, seven new cases of transplant recipients with M. hominis infections were discovered, all of whom had tested negative for this pathogen prior to their transplant. Other evidence consisted of two patients who had each received a single lung from the same donor; both acquired an M. hominis infection, despite no other cases being present in the hospital.

Mark Wylam, M.D. team leader of this study at the Mayo Clinic believes “this finding could affect how we approach the evaluation of organ donors”. If the mechanism of transmission can be identified, then the risk of infecting the recipient can be reduced.

“This finding could affect how we approach the evaluation of organ donors.”

The study also investigated current M. hominis detection mechanisms. Current methods of testing for this pathogen were thought to be inadequate which prompted Robin Patel, M.D., Mayo Clinic, to develop a new technique which utilises the Polymerase Chain Reaction. This method is much faster than traditional culture media tests which take up to five days to complete.


Click here to read the study in full.