Identification of Mycoplasma Incognitus Infection in Patients with AIDS: An Immunohistochemical, in Situ Hybridization and Ultrastructural Study

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  • American Registry of Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Washington, DC
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Monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) were developed against antigens from a pure culture of Mycoplasma incognitus grown in modified SP-4 medium. All the Mabs obtained were shown to react only with M. incognitus, and not with other species of human mycoplasma. The Mabs identified M. incognitus immunohistologically in thymus, liver, spleen, lymph node, or brain from 22 patients with AIDS, as well as in 2 placentas delivered by patients with AIDS. Using an 35S-labeled DNA probe specific for M. incognitus and in situ hybridization technique, we also identified M. incognitus-specific genetic material in these tissues. Furthermore, ultrastructural studies of the specific areas of tissues which were highly positive for M. incognitus antigens revealed characteristic structures of mycoplasma organisms. These mycoplasma-like particles could be identified intracellularly and extracellularly. Histopathology of the tissues infected by M. incognitus varied from no pathological changes to fulminant necrosis with or without an associated inflammatory reaction. M. incognitus, a novel pathogenic mycoplasma, was cytopathic and cytocidal.