Buruli ulcer caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans subsp. shinshuense: A case report

Takumi Fujimori, Hideharu Hagiya, Koji Iio, Osamu Yamasaki, Yuji Miyamoto, Yoshihiko Hoshino, Ayaka Kakehi, Mami Okura, Hiroshi Minabe, Yukika Yokoyama, Fumio Otsuka, Akihito Higashikage

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Buruli ulcer is the third most common mycobacterial infection worldwide and is mainly diagnosed in tropical regions. Globally, this progressive disease is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans; however, Mycobacterium ulcerans subsp. shinshuense, an Asian variant, has been exclusively identified in Japan. Because of insufficient clinical cases, the clinical features of M. ulcerans subsp. shinshuense–associated Buruli ulcer remain unclear. A 70-year-old Japanese woman presented with erythema on her left backhand. The skin lesion deteriorated without an apparent etiology of inflammation, and she was referred to our hospital 3 months after disease onset. A biopsy specimen was incubated in 2% Ogawa medium at 30 °C. After 66 days, we detected small yellow-pigmented colonies, suggesting scotochromogens. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI Biotyper; Bruker Daltonics, Billerica, MA, USA) indicated that the organism was Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii or Mycobacterium marinum. However, additional PCR testing for the insertion sequence 2404 (IS2404) was positive, suggesting that the pathogen was either M. ulcerans or M. ulcerans subsp. shinshuense. Further examination by 16S rRNA sequencing analysis, focusing on nucleotide positions 492, 1247, 1288, and 1449–1451, we finally identified the organism as M. ulcerans subsp. shinshuense. The patient was successfully treated with 12 weeks of clarithromycin and levofloxacin treatment. Mass spectrometry is the latest microbial diagnostic method; however, it cannot be used to identify M. ulcerans subsp. shinshuense. To accurately detect this enigmatic pathogen and uncover its epidemiology and clinical characteristics in Japan, more accumulation of clinical cases with accurate identification of the causative pathogen is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-526
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Infection and Chemotherapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • 16S rRNA sequencing analysis
  • Buruli ulcer
  • Mycobacterium ulcerans
  • Mycobacterium ulcerans subsp. shinshuense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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