Macromorphological analysis of skeletons, from 20 selected graves of the
8th century AD Bélmegyer-Csömöki domb, revealed 19 cases of possible
skeletal tuberculosis. Biomolecular analyses provided general support
for such diagnoses, including the individual without pathology, but the
data did not show coherent consistency over the range of biomarkers
examined. Amplification of ancient DNA fragments found evidence for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis
complex DNA only in five graves. In contrast, varying degrees of lipid
biomarker presence were recorded in all except two of the skeletons,
though most lipid components appeared to be somewhat degraded.
Mycobacterial mycolic acid biomarkers were absent in five cases, but the
weak, possibly degraded profiles for the remainder were smaller and
inconclusive for either tuberculosis or leprosy. The most positive lipid
biomarker evidence for tuberculosis was provided by mycolipenic acid,
with 13 clear cases, supported by five distinct possible cases.
Combinations of mycocerosic acids were present in all but three graves,
but in one case a tuberculosis-leprosy co-infection was indicated. In
two specimens with pathology, no lipid biomarker evidence was recorded,
but one of these specimens provided M. tuberculosis complex DNA fragments.
- Ancient DNA
- Lipid biomarkers
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex