7000 years ago: One of the oldest cases of tuberculosis discovered

October 30, 2013

Tuberculosis was present in Europe as early as 7000 years ago, according to new research published October 30th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, by Muriel Masson and colleagues at the University of Szeged.

A disease called Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteopathy is characterized by symmetrical new bone formations on the long bones. Based on the archaeological record, it has been suggested that tuberculosis might have caused HPO thousands of years ago. HPO is a rare find in the , making it difficult to verify this hypothesis.

In this study, the authors examined seventy-one human skeletons from a 7000-year-old site in the south of Hungary. They found numerous cases of infections and metabolic diseases, and some skeletons showed signs of HPO and therefore potentially tuberculosis. They focused on one skeleton in particular to verify this hypothesis, and analyzed the ancient DNA and lipids from its bones to do so. Both tests confirmed the presence of the bacterial complex associated with tuberculosis.

This is one of the earliest known cases of HPO and to date, and helps shed new light on this European community in prehistoric times. Masson adds, "This is a crucial find from a fantastic site. It is not only the earliest occurrence of fully-developed HPO on an adult skeleton to date, but also clearly establishes the presence of Tuberculosis in Europe 7000 years ago."

Explore further: Technology brings new life to the study of diseases in old bones

More information: Masson M, Molnár E, Donoghue HD, Besra GS, Minnikin DE, et al. (2013) Osteological and Biomolecular Evidence of a 7000-Year Old Case of Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteopathy Secondary to Tuberculosis from Neolithic Hungary. PLoS ONE 8(10): e78252. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078252

Related Stories

FDA approves first new tuberculosis in 40 years

December 31, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a Johnson & Johnson tuberculosis drug that is the first new medicine to fight the deadly infection in more than four decades.

Potential new drug for tuberculosis

August 5, 2013

A new drug capable of inhibiting growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is reported this week in Nature Medicine. The findings may improve therapeutic options for the treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

Recommended for you

Bile acid uptake inhibitor prevents NASH / fatty liver in mice

September 21, 2016

Drugs that interfere with bile acid recycling can prevent several aspects of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) in mice fed a high-fat diet, scientists from Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of ...

New therapeutic target for Crohn's disease

September 20, 2016

Research from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a promising new target for future drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study, published today in Cell Reports, also indicates ...

Arthritis drug may help with type of hair loss

September 22, 2016

(HealthDay)—For people who suffer from a condition that causes disfiguring hair loss, a drug used for rheumatoid arthritis might regrow their hair, a new, small study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.