ReportsOrgan Transplantation

Disseminated Ureaplasma infection as a cause of fatal hyperammonemia in humans

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Apr 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 284, pp. 284re3
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa8419

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The killer within

Hyperammonemia, or abnormal buildup of ammonia, is an uncommon but generally fatal condition that affects immunosuppressed patients, particularly those who receive a lung transplant. Although there are treatments that can lower the blood concentration of ammonia, their effects are short-lived, and they are typically ineffective for this condition. Now, Bharat et al. identified Ureaplasma bacteria as the cause of this condition and demonstrated that it can be successfully treated with antibiotics. These findings suggest that patients with hyperammonemia should be screened for Ureaplasma species and treated with the appropriate antibiotics for this infection. Moreover, the authors found evidence of Ureaplasma species in one donor’s lung fluid sample, indicating that donors may need to be screened for it as well.

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