Objective Ancestral M. tuberculosis complex lineages such as M. africanum are underrepresented among retreatment patients and those with drug resistance. To test the hypothesis that they respond faster to TB treatment, we determined the rate of smear conversion of new pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Bamako, Mali by the main MTBc lineages. Methods Between 2015 and 2017, we conducted a prospective cohort study of new smear positive pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Bamako. Confirmed MTBc isolates underwent genotyp-ing by spoligotyping for lineage classification. Patients were followed at 1 month (M), 2M and 5M to measure smear conversion in auramine (AR) and Fluorescein DiAcetate (FDA) vital stain microscopy. Result All the first six human MTBc lineages were represented in the population, plus M. bovis in 0.8% of the patients. The most widely represented lineage was the modern Euro-American lineage (L) 4, 57%, predominantly the T family, followed by L6 (M. africanum type 2) in 22.9%. Ancestral lineages 1, 5, 6 and M. bovis combined amounted to 28.8%. Excluding 25 patients with rifampicin resistance, smear conversion, both by AR and FDA, occurred later in L6 compared to L4 (HR 0.80 (95% CI 0.66–0.97) for AR, and HR 0.81 (95%CI 0.68–0.97) for FDA). In addition we found that HIV negative status, higher BMI at day 0, and patients with smear grade at baseline 1+ were associated with earlier smear conversion. Conclusion The six major human lineages of the MTBc all circulate in Bamako. Counter to our hypothesis, we found that patients diseased with modern M. tuberculosis complex L4 respond faster to TB treatment than those with M. africanum L6.
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