Drug resistance poses a serious challenge for the control of tuberculosis in many settings. It is well established that the expected future trend in resistance depends on the reproductive fitness of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. However, the variability in fitness between strains with different resistance-conferring mutations has been largely ignored when making these predictions.
We developed a novel approach for incorporating the variable fitness costs of drug resistance-conferring mutations and for tracking this distribution of fitness costs over time within a transmission model. We used this approach to describe the effects of realistic fitness cost distributions on the future prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The shape of the distribution of fitness costs was a strong predictor of the long-term prevalence of resistance. While, as expected, lower average fitness costs of drug resistance-conferring mutations were associated with more severe epidemics of drug-resistant tuberculosis, fitness distributions with greater variance also led to higher levels of drug resistance. For example, compared to simulations in which the fitness cost of resistance was fixed, introducing a realistic amount of variance resulted in a 40% increase in prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis after 20 years.
The differences in the fitness costs associated with drug resistance-conferring mutations are a key determinant of the future burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Future studies that can better establish the range of fitness costs associated with drug resistance-conferring mutations will improve projections and thus facilitate better public health planning efforts.
Knight GM, Colijn C, Shrestha S, Fofana M, Cobelens F, White RG, Dowdy DW, Cohen T. (2015). The Distribution of Fitness Costs of Resistance-Conferring Mutations Is a Key Determinant for the Future Burden of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: A Model-Based Analysis. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, (61Suppl 3)