A Graphical Overview of the Histopathology of Human Melioidosis: A Case Series

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Melioidosis, caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, has a major global health impact and a wide range of different disease manifestations. Histopathological descriptions of melioidosis remain limited. Granulomatous inflammation with multinucleated giant cells are considered classic features. We aim to present a graphical overview of histopathological manifestations of melioidosis, serving as an aid in diagnosing this disease. Methods: We performed a retrospective international multicenter laboratory-based analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue from culture-confirmed melioidosis autopsy and biopsy cases. Available FFPE tissue was stained with hematoxylin and eosin and immunostainings including a monoclonal antibody targeting the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) of B pseudomallei. Tissue with site-specific cultures and/or positive CPS staining were included in the graphical histopathological overview. Results: We identified tissue of 8 autopsy and 5 biopsy cases. Pneumonia and soft tissue abscesses were the leading foci of disease displaying mainly necrosis and suppuration. Infrequent disease manifestations included involvement of bone marrow and adrenal glands in an autopsy case and biopsied mediastinal tissue, the latter being the only case in which we identified multinucleated giant cells. Using the CPS staining, we demonstrated granulomata as part of rare gastric tissue involvement. Conclusions: We found fatal melioidosis to be a necrotizing and suppurative inflammation, usually without multinucleated giant cell formation. Gastric and mediastinal involvement points to ingestion and inhalation as possible routes of infection. The CPS staining proved beneficial as an aid to establish a histopathological diagnosis. Our graphical overview can be used by infectious diseases specialists, microbiologists, and pathologists.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberofad367
JournalOpen forum infectious diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • histopathology
  • melioidosis

Cite this