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1.  Tuberculin Skin Testing and Treatment Modulates Interferon-Gamma Release Assay Results for Latent Tuberculosis in Migrants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97366.
Identifying latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in people migrating from TB endemic regions to low incidence countries is an important control measure. However, no prospective longitudinal comparisons between diagnostic tests used in such migrant populations are available.
To compare commercial interferon (IFN)-gamma release assays (IGRAs) and the tuberculin skin test (TST) for diagnosing LTBI in a migrant population, and the influence of antecedent TST and LTBI treatment on IGRA performance.
Materials and Methods
This cohort study, performed from February to September 2012, assessed longitudinal IGRA and TST responses in Nepalese military recruits recently arrived in the UK. Concomitant T-SPOT.TB, QFT-GIT and TST were performed on day 0, with IGRAs repeated 7 and 200 days later, following treatment for LTBI if necessary.
166 Nepalese recruits were prospectively assessed. At entry, 21 individuals were positive by T-SPOT.TB and 8 individuals by QFT-GIT. There was substantial agreement between TST and T-SPOT.TB positives at baseline (71.4% agreement; κ = 0.62; 95% CI:0.44–0.79), but only moderate concordance between positive IGRAs (38.1% agreement; κ = 0.46; 95% CI:0.25–0.67). When reassessed 7 days following TST, numbers of IGRA-positive individuals changed from 8 to 23 for QFT-GIT (p = 0.0074) and from 21 to 23 for T-SPOT.TB (p = 0.87). This resulted in an increase in IGRA concordance to substantial (64.3% agreement; κ = 0.73; 95% CI:0.58-0.88). Thus, in total on day 0 and day 7 after testing, 29 out of 166 participants (17.5%) provided a positive IGRA and of these 13 were TST negative. Two hundred days after the study commenced and three months after treatment for LTBI was completed by those who were given chemoprophylaxis, 23 and 21 participants were positive by T-SPOT.TB or QFT-GIT respectively. When individual responses were examined longitudinally within this population 35% of the day 7 QFT-GIT-positive, and 19% T-SPOT.TB-positive individuals, were negative by IGRA. When the change in the levels of secreted IFN-γ was examined after chemoprophylaxis the median levels were found to have fallen dramatically by 77.3% from a pre-treatment median concentration of IFN-γ 2.73 IU/ml to a post-treatment median concentration IFN-γ 0.62 (p = 0.0002).
This study suggests differences in the capacity of commercially available IGRAs to identify LTBI in the absence of antecedent TST and that IGRAs, in the time periods examined, may not be the optimal tests to determine the success of chemoprophylaxis for LTBI.
PMCID: PMC4016319  PMID: 24816576
2.  Latent TB detection by interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) in pregnancy predicts active TB and mortality in HIV-1 infected women and their children 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;202(12):1826-1835.
We evaluated the prognostic utility of interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) for active tuberculosis (TB) and mortality in Kenyan HIV-1 infected women and their infants.
Prevalence and correlates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific T-SPOT.TB IGRA positivity were determined during pregnancy in a historical cohort of HIV-1 infected women. Hazard ratios, adjusted for baseline maternal CD4 count (aHRCD4) were calculated for associations between IGRA positivity and risk of active TB and mortality over 2-year postpartum follow-up in women and their infants.
Of 333 women tested, 52 (15.6%) had indeterminate IGRAs. Of the remaining 281 women, 120 (42.7%) had positive IGRAs, which were associated with a 4.5-fold increased risk of active TB [aHRCD4: 4.5; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1–18.0; p=0.03]. Among immunosuppresed women (CD4<250 cell/mm3), positive IGRAs were associated with increased risk of maternal mortality (aHRCD4: 3.5; 95% CI: 1.02–12.1; p=0.045), maternal active TB or mortality (aHRCD4: 5.2; 95% CI: 1.7–15.6; p=0.004) and infant active TB or mortality, overall (aHRCD4: 3.0; 95% CI: 1.0–8.9; p= 0.05) and in HIV-1 exposed uninfected infants (aHRCD4: 7.3; 95% CI: 1.6–33.5; p =0.01).
Positive IGRAs in HIV-1 infected pregnant women were associated with postpartum active TB and mortality in mothers and their infants.
PMCID: PMC3058232  PMID: 21067370
Latent tuberculosis infection; HIV-1; women; infants; T-SPOT.TB; IGRA
3.  Serial Interferon-gamma Release Assays for the Diagnosis of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Patients Treated with Immunosuppressive Agents 
We assessed the efficacy of serial interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in patients receiving immunosuppressive agents for treatment of rheumatic diseases in Korea.
Of 276 patients who underwent consecutive screening with one of two IGRAs [QuantiFERON-TB Gold or QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube], 66 patients were evaluated by the serial IGRA for detection of LTBI during therapy with immunosuppressive agents. Information on clinical diagnosis, medication, previous TB, blood cell count, tuberculin skin test, and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) level measured by IGRA was collected.
Of the 66 patients, the initial IGRA was positive in 24.2%, negative in 65.2%, and indeterminate in 10.6%. Forty-six patients (69.7%) showed consistent IGRA results during follow-up, and 13 patients (19.7%) had consistently positive results. IGRA conversion rate was 12.1% (8/66) and reversion rate was 4.5% (3/66). Conversion of IGRA results was only observed in ankylosing spondylitis patients, and the median interval between the two tests in patients with conversion was 8.5 months. The mean IFN-γ level in the group of patients with consistently positive IGRA results was higher than that in the group with inconsistently positive results, although this trend was not statistically significant (P=0.293). Indeterminate results were observed most frequently in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
In patients receiving immunosuppressive agents, both IGRA conversions and reversions were observed. Serial IGRA testing may not be needed in patients with a positive initial IGRA result showing high IFN-γ levels, because of high consistency in the test results.
PMCID: PMC3190006  PMID: 22016681
Interferon-gamma release assay; Latent tuberculosis infection; Immunosuppressive agent; Conversion
4.  Latent Tuberculosis Detection by Interferon γ Release Assay during Pregnancy Predicts Active Tuberculosis and Mortality in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Infected Women and Their Children 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2010;202(12):1826-1835.
Background. We evaluated the prognostic usefulness of interferon γ release assays (IGRAs) for active tuberculosis and mortality in Kenyan human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected women and their infants.
Methods. Prevalence and correlates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific T-SPOT.TB IGRA positivity were determined during pregnancy in a historical cohort of HIV-1-infected women. Hazard ratios, adjusted for baseline maternal CD4 cell count (aHRCD4), were calculated for associations between IGRA positivity and risk of active tuberculosis and mortality over 2-year postpartum follow-up among women and their infants.
Results. Of 333 women tested, 52 (15.6%) had indeterminate IGRA results. Of the remaining 281 women, 120 (42.7%) had positive IGRA results, which were associated with a 4.5-fold increased risk of active tuberculosis (aHRCD4, 4.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1–18.0; P = .030). For immunosuppressed women (CD4 cell count, <250 cells/µL), positive IGRA results were associated with increased risk of maternal mortality (aHRCD4, 3.5; 95% CI, 1.02–12.1; ), maternal active tuberculosis or mortality (aHRCD4 P = .045 , 5.2; 95% CI, 1.7–15.6; P = .004), and infant active tuberculosis or mortality overall (aHRCD4, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.0–8.9; P = .05) and among HIV-1-exposed uninfected infants (aHRCD4, 7.3; 95% CI, 1.6–33.5; P = .01).
Conclusions. Positive IGRA results for HIV-1-infected pregnant women were associated with postpartum active tuberculosis and mortality among mothers and their infants.
PMCID: PMC3058232  PMID: 21067370
5.  Diagnosing Latent Tuberculosis Infection in the HIV Era 
Tuberculin skin testing (TST) and Interferon-gamma (IFNγ)release assays (IGRAs) are presently the only available assays for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infected individuals. IGRAs might progressively replace TST, as numerous published reports establish their higher specificity and similar sensitivity when tested in BCG vaccinated, immunocompetent individuals or in populations who may have been in contact with atypical mycobacteria. However, few published reports have commented on their role in TB diagnosis in immunocompromised individuals (HIV, immunosuppressive therapy, cancer…). It is the purpose of this report to review IGRAs published studies in HIV individuals in endemic and non endemic area for tuberculosis (TB). IGRAs were tested in the presence or absence of active TB but correlated to duration of exposure. In newly diagnosed active TB, IGRAs demonstrated a similar sensitivity to TST. In TB non infected individuals, TST and IGRAs also gave similar values when categorization of individuals was correlated to the risk of infection. A higher number of positive IGRAs was observed in individuals from TB endemic areas, in similar proportions to immunocompetent individuals. Comparison between the two IGRAs: QuantiFERON-TB Gold® (QF-TB, Cellestis, Australia) and T-SPOT-TB® (Oxford Immunotec, UK), and against TST, in the same HIV population demonstrates a higher sensitivity of T-SPOT-TB and TST than QF-TB. Indeterminate results, which correspond to the absence of a positive T-cell IFNγ response towards phytohemaglutinin (PHA), is a key point when comparing both IGRAs. This PHA control is indicative of the level of immunosuppression observed in the tested individual. QF-TB seems to present, in HIV populations, more indeterminate results than T-SPOT-TB. The calibration and/or concentration of PBMC on nitrocellulose membrane for the T-SPOT-TB, as compared to a whole blood assay, might explain this difference, with less indeterminate results with the T-SPOT-TB assay. Neither assay is able to differentiate active TB from latent TB infection (LTBI). Several laboratories have tried new antigenic epitopes to solve this issue. It is of importance that these studies need to be repeated on a larger scale by others to validate their results. Two blood assays might add information characterising the evolution from LTBI to active TB: either by losing protective immunity, as demonstrated by the whole blood killing assay, or by evaluating the kinetics of the antibodies synthesized against M. tuberculosis specific antigens. In conclusion, longitudinal studies are still needed to validate IGRAs and other assays and to define their respective predictive values.
PMCID: PMC2606646  PMID: 19343092
Tuberculin skin test; Interferon-gamma release assays; HIV-infected; latent tuberculosis infection; active tuberculosis; whole-blood killing assay; ELISA; antibody; PGL-Tb1.
6.  Within-Subject Variability of Interferon-g Assay Results for Tuberculosis and Boosting Effect of Tuberculin Skin Testing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8517.
Variability in interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) results for tuberculosis has implications for interpretation of results close to the cut-point, and for defining thresholds for test conversion and reversion. However, little is known about the within-subject variability (reproducibility) of IGRAs. Several national guidelines recommend a two-step testing procedure (tuberculin skin test [TST] followed by IGRA) for the diagnosis of LTBI. However, the effect of a preceding TST on subsequent IGRA results has been reported in studies with apparently conflicting results.
We conducted a systematic review to synthesize evidence on within-subject variability of IGRA results and the potential boosting effect of TST. We searched several databases and reviewed citations of previous reviews on IGRAs. We included studies using commercial IGRAs, in addition to non-commercial versions of the ELISPOT assay. Four studies, fulfilling our predefined criteria, examined within-subject variability and 13 studies evaluated TST effects on subsequent IGRA responses. Meta-analysis was not considered appropriate because of heterogeneity in study methods, assays, and populations. Although based on limited data, within-subject variability was present in all studies but the magnitude varied (16-80%) across studies. A TST induced “boosting” of IGRA responses was demonstrated in several studies and although more pronounced in IGRA-positive (i.e. sensitized) individuals, also occurred in a smaller but not insignificant proportion of IGRA-negative subjects. The TST appeared to affect IGRA responses only after 3 days and may apparently persist for several months, but evidence for this is weak.
Although reproducibility data are scarce, significant within person IGRA variability has been reported. If confirmed in more studies, this has implications for the interpretation of results close to the cut-point and for definition of conversions and reversions. Although the effect of TST on IGRA results is likely to be inconsequential in IGRA-positive subjects, in IGRA-negative subjects, the interpretation of results may be confounded by a preceding TST if administered more than 3 days prior to an IGRA.
PMCID: PMC2795193  PMID: 20041113
7.  Discordance of Tuberculin Skin Test and Interferon Gamma Release Assay in Recently Exposed Household Contacts of Pulmonary TB Cases in Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96564.
Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) such as the Quantiferon Gold In-tube test are in vitro assays that measure IFN-γ release from T cells in response to M. tuberculosis (Mtb)-specific antigens. Unlike the tuberculin skin test (TST), IGRA is specific and able to distinguish Mtb-infection from BCG vaccination. In this study we evaluated the concordance between TST and IGRA and the efficacy of IGRA in diagnosing new Mtb infection in household contacts (HHC) of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) cases. A total of 357 HHC of TB cases in Vitória, Brazil were studied. A TST was performed within 2 weeks following enrollment of the HHC and if negative a second TST was performed at 8-12 weeks. HHC were categorized as initially TST positive (TST+), persistently TST negative (TST-), or TST converters (TSTc), the latter representative of new infection. IGRA was performed at 8–12 weeks following enrollment and the test results were positive in 82% of TST+, 48% of TSTc, and 12% of TST-, indicating poor concordance between the two test results among HHC in each category. Evaluating CXCL10 levels in a subset of IGRA supernatants or lowering the IGRA cutoff value to define a positive test increased agreement between TST and IGRA test results. However, ROC curves demonstrated that this resulted in a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity of IGRA with respect to TST. Together, the findings suggest that until the basis for the discordance between TST and IGRA is fully understood, it may be necessary to utilize both tests to diagnose new Mtb infection in recently exposed HHC. Operationally, in IGRA negative HHC, it may be useful to employ a lower cutoff value for IGRA to allow closer monitoring for potential conversion.
PMCID: PMC4018294  PMID: 24819060
8.  A Three-Way Comparison of Tuberculin Skin Testing, QuantiFERON-TB Gold and T-SPOT.TB in Children 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2624.
There are limited data comparing the performance of the two commercially available interferon gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in children. We compared QuantiFERON-TB gold In Tube (QFT-IT), T-SPOT.TB and the tuberculin skin test (TST) in children at risk for latent TB infection or TB disease.
Methods and Findings
The results of both IGRAs were compared with diagnosis assigned by TST-based criteria and assessed in relation to TB contact history. Results from the TST and at least one assay were available for 96 of 100 children. Agreement between QFT-IT and T-SPOT.TB was high (93% agreement, κ = 0.83). QFT-IT and T-SPOT.TB tests were positive in 8 (89%) and 9 (100%) children with suspected active TB disease. There was moderate agreement between TST and either QFT-IT (75%, κ = 0.50) or T-SPOT.TB (75%, κ = 0.51). Among 38 children with TST-defined latent TB infection, QFT-IT gold and T-SPOT.TB assays were positive in 47% and 39% respectively. Three TST-negative children were positive by at least one IGRA. Children with a TB contact were more likely than children without a TB contact to have a positive IGRA (QFT-IT LR 3.9; T-SPOT.TB LR 3.9) and a positive TST (LR 1.4). Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that the magnitude of both TST induration and IGRA IFN-γ responses was significantly influenced by TB contact history, but only the TST was influenced by age.
Although a high level of agreement between the IGRAs was observed, they are commonly discordant with the TST. The correct interpretation of a negative assay in a child with a positive skin test in clinical practice remains challenging and highlights the need for longitudinal studies to determine the negative predictive value of IGRAs.
PMCID: PMC2440545  PMID: 18612425
9.  Long-Incubation-Time Gamma Interferon Release Assays in Response to Purified Protein Derivative, ESAT-6, and/or CFP-10 for the Diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in Children 
The diagnosis of childhood active tuberculosis (aTB) and latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) infection (LTBI) remains a challenge, and the replacement of tuberculin skin tests (TST) with commercialized gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRA) is not currently recommended. Two hundred sixty-six children between 1 month and 15 years of age, 214 of whom were at risk of recent M. tuberculosis infection and 51 who were included as controls, were prospectively enrolled in our study. According to the results of a clinical evaluation, TST, chest X ray, and microbiological assessment, each children was classified as noninfected, having LTBI, or having aTB. Long-incubation-time purified protein derivative (PPD), ESAT-6, and CFP-10 IGRA were performed and evaluated for their accuracy in correctly classifying the children. Whereas both TST and PPD IGRA were suboptimal for detecting aTB, combining the CFP-10 IGRA with a TST or with a PPD IGRA allowed us to detect all the children with aTB with a specificity of 96% for children who were positive for the CFP-10 IGRA. Moreover, the combination of the CFP-10 IGRA and PPD IGRA detected 96% of children who were eventually classified as having LTBI, but a strong IFN-γ response to CFP-10 (defined as >500 pg/ml) was highly suggestive of aTB, at least among the children who were <3 years old. The use of long-incubation-time CFP-10 IGRA and PPD IGRA should help clinicians to quickly identify aTB or LTBI in young children.
PMCID: PMC3910945  PMID: 24152386
10.  Comparison of Two Gamma Interferon Release Assays and Tuberculin Skin Testing for Tuberculosis Screening in a Cohort of Patients with Rheumatic Diseases Starting Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor Therapy ▿ 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2011;18(12):2102-2108.
Gamma interferon release assays (IGRAs) are increasingly used for latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI) screening in patients with rheumatic diseases starting anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies. We compared the performances of two IGRAs, an enzyme-linked immunospot release assay (T-SPOT.TB) and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In Tube [QFT-GIT]), to that of tuberculin skin testing (TST) for LTBI screening of 157 consecutive rheumatic patients starting anti-TNF therapies. Among 155 patients with valid results, 58 (37%) were positive by TST, 39 (25%) by T-SPOT.TB assay, and 32 (21%) by QFT-GIT assay. IGRAs were associated more strongly with at least one risk factor for tuberculosis (TB) than TST. Risk factors for a positive assay included chest X-ray findings of old TB (TST), advanced age (both IGRAs), origin from a country with a high TB prevalence, and a positive TST (T-SPOT.TB assay). Steroid use was negatively associated with a positive QFT-GIT assay. The agreement rate between IGRAs was 81% (kappa rate = 0.47), which was much higher than that observed between an IGRA and TST. If positivity by either TST or an IGRA was required for LTBI diagnosis, then the rate of LTBI would have been 46 to 47%, while if an IGRA was performed only for TST-positive patients, the respective rate would have been 11 to 17%. In conclusion, IGRAs appear to correlate better with TB risk than TST and should be included in TB screening of patients starting anti-TNF therapies. In view of the high risk of TB in these patients, a combination of one IGRA and TST is probably more appropriate for LTBI diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3232699  PMID: 21994356
11.  Sensitivity Analysis and Potential Uses of a Novel Gamma Interferon Release Assay for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(8):2844-2850.
Sputum smears for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) are the primary methods for diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in many countries. The tuberculin skin test (TST) is the primary method for diagnosis of latent TB infection (LTBI) worldwide. The poor sensitivity of the former and the poor specificity of the latter warrant the development of new tests and strategies to enhance diagnostic capabilities. We evaluated the sensitivity of an “in-tube” gamma interferon release assay (IGRA) using TB-specific antigens in comparison to the TST and the sputum smear for AFB in TB cases in South Africa. The sensitivity of the IGRA for TB was considered a surrogate of sensitivity in LTBI. Among 154 patients with a positive culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the sensitivity of the IGRA for the diagnosis of TB varied by clinical subgroup from 64% to 82%, that of the TST varied from 85% to 94%, and that of two sputum smears for AFB varied from 35% to 53%. The sensitivity of the IGRA in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected TB cases was 81%. HIV-infected TB patients were significantly more likely to have indeterminate IGRA results and produced quantitatively less gamma interferon in response to TB-specific antigens than HIV-negative TB patients. The overall sensitivity of the TST in all TB cases was higher than that of the IGRA (90% versus 76%, respectively). The combined sensitivities of the TST plus IGRA and TST plus a single sputum smear were 96% and 93%, respectively. The TST combined with IGRA or with a single sputum smear may have a role in excluding the diagnosis of TB in some settings.
PMCID: PMC1594653  PMID: 16891501
12.  HIV patients with latent tuberculosis living in a low-endemic country do not develop active disease during a 2 year follow-up; a Norwegian prospective multicenter study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):667.
Interferon-γ release assays (IGRA) serve as immunodiagnostics of tuberculosis (TB) infection to identify individuals with latent TB infection (LTBI) eligible for preventive anti-TB therapy. In this longitudinal study of HIV-infected LTBI patients we have observed for possible progression to active TB as well as evaluated repeated IGRA testing in a TB low-endemic setting.
QuantiFERON TB-Gold In-tube® assay (QFT), TB-SPOT.TB® (TSPOT) and tuberculin skin test (TST) were performed on 298 HIV-patients recruited from seven out-patient clinics in Norway. Patients with active TB, LTBI and negative IGRA were followed with repeat QFTs and clinical evaluation over a period of 24 months.
Seven HIV-patients (median CD4 count 270; IQR 50–340) were diagnosed with active TB at inclusion, all IGRA positive. Sixty-four (21%) HIV-patients (median CD4 count 471; IQR 342–638) were diagnosed with LTBI and of these 39 (61%) received TB preventive treatment. Neither treated nor untreated HIV-infected LTBI patients developed active TB during the 24 months. At baseline, the median interferon-γ (INF-γ) level measured by QFT was 3.48 IU/ml (IQR 0.94 – 8.91 IU/ml) for treated LTBI compared to 1.13 IU/ml (IQR 0.47 – 4.25 IU/ml) for untreated LTBI patients (p = 0.029). The QFT reversion rates were 75% for active TB, 23% for treated LTBI and 44% for untreated LTBI, whereas the conversion rate for the non-TB group was 7% despite no new TB exposure. There was no significant difference in the trend of INF-γ levels over time between treated and untreated LTBI patients.
The prevalence of LTBI is high among HIV-patients, but the risk of developing active TB seems to be low in patients with high CD4 counts in this TB low-endemic setting. In several patients, especially with baseline IFN-γ levels close to cut-offs, the QFT tests reverted to negative independent of preventive anti-TB treatment indicating possibly false positive tests. This highlights the importance of defining reliable cut-offs for immunodiagnostic tests and deferring preventive therapy in selected patients. Randomized studies with longer follow-up time are needed to identify HIV-patients that would benefit from LTBI treatment in a TB low-endemic setting.
PMCID: PMC4273430  PMID: 25515915
Tuberculosis; HIV; IGRA; QuantiFERON-TB; Tuberculin skin test; Norway; TB low-endemic; Preventive therapy; Follow-up
13.  Interferon-gamma release assays for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection in HIV-infected individuals – A systematic review and meta-analysis 
To determine whether interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) improve the identification of HIV-infected individuals who could benefit from LTBI therapy.
Systematic review and meta-analysis.
We searched multiple databases through May2010 for studies evaluating the performance of the newest commercial IGRAs (QuantiFERON-Gold In-tube [QFT-GIT] and T-SPOT. TB [TSPOT])in HIV-infected individuals. We assessed the quality of all studies included in the review, summarized results in pre-specified sub-groups using forest plots, and where appropriate, calculated pooled estimates using random effects models.
The search identified 37 studies that included 5736 HIV-infected individuals. In3 longitudinal studies, the risk of active TB was higher in HIV-infected individuals with positive versus negative IGRA results. However, the risk difference was not statistically significant in the 2 studies that reported IGRA results according to manufacturer-recommended criteria. In persons with active TB(a surrogate reference standard for LTBI), pooled sensitivity estimates were heterogeneous, but higher for TSPOT (72%, 95% CI 62–81%) than for QFT-GIT (61%, 95% CI 41–75%). However, neither IGRA was consistently more sensitive than the tuberculin skin test (TST) in head-to-head comparisons. While TSPOT appeared to be less affected by immunosuppression than QFT-GIT and TST, overall, differences between the three tests were small or inconclusive.
Current evidence suggests that IGRAs perform similarly to the TST at identifying HIV-infected individuals with LTBI. Given that both tests have modest predictive value and sub-optimal sensitivity, the decision to use either test should be based on country guidelines and resource and logistical considerations.
PMCID: PMC3383328  PMID: 21239993
latent tuberculosis infection; systematic review; interferon-gamma release assay; HIV infection; tuberculin skin test
14.  Feasibility, acceptability, and cost of tuberculosis testing by whole-blood interferon-gamma assay 
The whole-blood interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) is recommended in some settings as an alternative to the tuberculin skin test (TST). Outcomes from field implementation of the IGRA for routine tuberculosis (TB) testing have not been reported. We evaluated feasibility, acceptability, and costs after 1.5 years of IGRA use in San Francisco under routine program conditions.
Patients seen at six community clinics serving homeless, immigrant, or injection-drug user (IDU) populations were routinely offered IGRA (Quantiferon-TB). Per guidelines, we excluded patients who were <17 years old, HIV-infected, immunocompromised, or pregnant. We reviewed medical records for IGRA results and completion of medical evaluation for TB, and at two clinics reviewed TB screening logs for instances of IGRA refusal or phlebotomy failure.
Between November 1, 2003 and February 28, 2005, 4143 persons were evaluated by IGRA. 225(5%) specimens were not tested, and 89 (2%) were IGRA-indeterminate. Positive or negative IGRA results were available for 3829 (92%). Of 819 patients with positive IGRA results, 524 (64%) completed diagnostic evaluation within 30 days of their IGRA test date. Among 503 patients eligible for IGRA testing at two clinics, phlebotomy was refused by 33 (7%) and failed in 40 (8%). Including phlebotomy, laboratory, and personnel costs, IGRA use cost $33.67 per patient tested.
IGRA implementation in a routine TB control program setting was feasible and acceptable among homeless, IDU, and immigrant patients in San Francisco, with results more frequently available than the historically described performance of TST. Laboratory-based diagnosis and surveillance for M. tuberculosis infection is now possible.
PMCID: PMC1434750  PMID: 16539718
15.  A comparison of an interferon-gamma release assay and tuberculin skin test in refractory inflammatory disease patients screened for latent tuberculosis prior to the initiation of a first tumor necrosis factor α inhibitor 
Clinical Rheumatology  2010;30(4):505-510.
Treatment with TNFα inhibitors increases risk of reactivating a latent tuberculosis\infection (LTBI). Therefore screening, prior to therapy with TNFα inhibitors, has been recommended, even in low-endemic areas such as well-developed Western Europe countries. We evaluated interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA), as opposed to tuberculin skin test (TST), for detection of LTBI in refractory inflammatory disease patients prior to the initiation of a first TNFα inhibitor. In addition, we evaluated the impact of impaired cellular immunity on IGRA. Patients starting on TNFα inhibition were screened for LTBI by TST and IGRA (Quantiferon-TB Gold). Data on tuberculosis exposure and Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination were obtained. Cellular immunity was assessed by CD4+ T lymphocyte cell count. Nine out of 56 patients (16.1%) tested positive for LTBI. A concordant positive result was present in three patients with a medical history of tuberculosis exposure. Six patients with discordant test results had either: (1) a negative TST and positive IGRA in combination with a medical history of tuberculosis exposure (n = 1) or (2) a positive TST and negative IGRA in combination with BCG vaccination (n = 3) or a medical history of tuberculosis exposure (n = 2). CD4+ T lymphocyte cell counts were within normal limits, and no indeterminate results of IGRA were present. IGRA appears reliable for confirming TST and excluding a false positive TST (due to prior BCG vaccination) in this Dutch serie of patients. In addition, IGRA may detect one additional case of LTBI out of 56 patients that would otherwise be missed using solely TST. Immune suppression appears not to result significantly in lower CD4+ T lymphocyte cell counts and indeterminate results of IGRA, despite systemic corticosteroid treatment in half of the patients. Confirmation in larger studies, including assessment of cost-effectiveness, is required.
PMCID: PMC3062765  PMID: 20737179
CD4+ T lymphocyte cell count; IGRA; Immune-mediated inflammatory disease; Latent tuberculosis infection; TNFα inhibition; TST
16.  Role of interferon-gamma release assays in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in patients with advanced HIV infection 
T-cell interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) may have a role in the diagnosis of active tuberculosis when evaluating patients for whom standard microbiology has limited sensitivity. Our objective was to examine the accuracy of a commercial IGRA for diagnosis of active tuberculosis in HIV-infected persons.
We enrolled HIV-infected patients admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda with cough ≥ 2 weeks. All patients underwent standard medical evaluation. We collected peripheral blood specimens at enrollment and performed a commercial, ELISPOT-based IGRA according to the manufacturer's recommendations. IGRA sensitivity and specificity were determined using mycobacterial culture results as the reference standard.
Overall, 236 patients were enrolled. The median CD4+ T-lymphocyte count was 49 cells/μl and 126 (53%) patients were diagnosed with active pulmonary tuberculosis. IGRAs were not performed in 24 (10%) patients due to insufficient mononuclear cell counts. In the remaining 212 patients, results were indeterminate in 54 (25%). IGRAs were positive in 95 of 158 (60%) patients with interpretable results. The proportion of positive test results was similar across CD4+ count strata. IGRA sensitivity was 73% and specificity 54%. IGRA results did not meaningfully alter the probability of active tuberculosis in patients with negative sputum smears.
An ELISPOT-based IGRA detected a high prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection in a hospitalized population of tuberculosis suspects with advanced HIV/AIDS but had limited utility for diagnosis of active tuberculosis in a high prevalence setting. Further research is needed to identify stronger and more specific immune responses in patients with active tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC2846947  PMID: 20302657
17.  Bronchoalveolar Lavage Enzyme-Linked Immunospot for Diagnosis of Smear-Negative Tuberculosis in HIV-Infected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39838.
Peripheral blood interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) have sub-optimal sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). However, assessment of local immune responses has been reported to improve the accuracy of TB diagnosis.
We enrolled HIV-infected adults with cough ≥2 weeks’ duration admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda and referred for bronchoscopy following two negative sputum acid-fast bacillus smears. We performed an ELISPOT-based IGRA (T-SPOT.TB®, Oxford Immunotec, Oxford, UK) using peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid mononuclear cells, and determined the accuracy of IGRAs using mycobacterial culture results as a reference standard.
94 HIV-infected patients with paired peripheral blood and BAL IGRA results were included. The study population was young (median age 34 years [IQR 28–40 years]) and had advanced HIV/AIDS (median CD4+ T-lymphocyte count 60 cells/µl [IQR 22–200 cells/µl]). The proportion of indeterminate IGRA results was higher in BAL fluid than in peripheral blood specimens (34% vs. 14%, difference 20%, 95% CI 7–33%, p = 0.002). BAL IGRA had moderate sensitivity (73%, 95% CI 50–89%) but poor specificity (48%, 95% CI 32–64%) for TB diagnosis. Sensitivity was similar (75%, 95% CI 57–89%) and specificity was higher (78%, 95% CI 63–88%) when IGRA was performed on peripheral blood.
BAL IGRA performed poorly for the diagnosis of smear-negative TB in a high HIV/TB burden setting. Further studies are needed to examine reasons for the large proportion of indeterminate results and low specificity of BAL IGRA for active TB in high HIV/TB burden settings.
PMCID: PMC3383728  PMID: 22745833
18.  Comparison of two interferon-gamma release assays (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube and T-SPOT.TB) in testing for latent tuberculosis infection among HIV-infected adults 
International Journal of STD & AIDS  2013;24(10):775-779.
There is currently no ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), and both the tuberculin skin test and interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are used for diagnosis; the latter have a higher sensitivity than tuberculin skin tests for diagnosis of LTBI in HIV-infected individuals with lower CD4 counts. No evidence base exists for selection of IGRA methodology to identify LTBI among human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients in the UK. We prospectively evaluated two commercially available IGRA methods (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In Tube [QFG] and T-SPOT.TB) for testing LTBI among HIV-infected patients potentially nosocomially exposed to an HIV-infected patient with ‘smear-positive’ pulmonary tuberculosis. Among the exposed patients median CD4 count was 550 cells/µL; 105 (90%) of 117 were receiving antiretroviral therapy, of who 104 (99%) had an undetectable plasma HIV load. IGRAs were positive in 12 patients (10.3%); QFG positive in 11 (9.4%) and T-SPOT.TB positive in six (5.1%); both IGRAs were positive in five patients (4.3%). There was one indeterminate QFG and one borderline T-SPOT.TB result. Concordance between the two IGRAs was moderate (κ = 0.56, 95% confidence interval = 0.27–0.85). IGRAs were positive in only 4 (29%) of 14 patients with previous culture-proven tuberculosis. No patient developed tuberculosis during 20 months of follow-up.
PMCID: PMC4107858  PMID: 23970606
Interferon-gamma release assays; latent tuberculosis infection; HIV; screening; tuberculin skin test; AIDS; IGRA; Mycobacterium tuberculosis
19.  Systematic review of cost and cost-effectiveness of different TB-screening strategies 
Interferon-γ release assays (IGRAs) for TB have the potential to replace the tuberculin skin test (TST) in screening for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). The higher per-test cost of IGRAs may be compensated for by lower post-screening costs (medical attention, chest x-rays and chemoprevention), given the higher specificity of the new tests as compared to that of the conventional TST. We conducted a systematic review of all publications that have addressed the cost or cost-effectiveness of IGRAs. The objective of this report was to undertake a structured review and critical appraisal of the methods used for the model-based cost-effectiveness analysis of TB screening programmes.
Using Medline and Embase, 75 publications that contained the terms "IGRA", "tuberculosis" and "cost" were identified. Of these, 13 were original studies on the costs or cost-effectiveness of IGRAs.
The 13 relevant studies come from five low-to-medium TB-incidence countries. Five studies took only the costs of screening into consideration, while eight studies analysed the cost-effectiveness of different screening strategies. Screening was performed in high-risk groups: close contacts, immigrants from high-incidence countries and healthcare workers. Two studies used the T-SPOT.TB as an IGRA and the other studies used the QuantiFERON-TB Gold and/or Gold In-Tube test. All 13 studies observed a decrease in costs when the IGRAs were used. Six studies compared the use of an IGRA as a test to confirm a positive TST (TST/IGRA strategy) to the use of an IGRA-only strategy. In four of these studies, the two-step strategy and in two the IGRA-only strategy was more cost-effective. Assumptions about TST specificity and progression risk after a positive test had the greatest influence on determining which IGRA strategy was more cost-effective.
The available studies on cost-effectiveness provide strong evidence in support of the use of IGRAs in screening risk groups such as HCWs, immigrants from high-incidence countries and close contacts. So far, only two studies provide evidence that the IGRA-only screening strategy is more cost-effective.
PMCID: PMC3196701  PMID: 21961888
20.  Interferon-gamma release assays are a better tuberculosis screening test for hemodialysis patients: A study and review of the literature 
Diagnosing latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI) in dialysis patients is complicated by poor response to tuberculin skin testing (TST), but the role of interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) in the dialysis population remains uncertain. Seventy-nine patients were recruited to compare conventional diagnosis (CD) with the results of two IGRA tests in a dialysis unit. Combining TST, chest x-ray and screening questionnaire results (ie, CD) identified 24 patients as possible LTBI. IGRA testing identified 22 (QuantiFERON Gold IT, Cellestis, USA) and 23 (T-spot.TB, Oxford Immunotec, United Kingdom) LTBI patients. IGRA and CD correlated moderately (κ=0.59). IGRA results correlated with history of TB, TB contact and birth in an endemic country. TST was not helpful in identifying LTBI patients in this population. The tendency for IGRAs to correlate with risk factors for TB, active TB infection and history of TB argues for their superiority over TST in dialysis patients. There was no superiority of one IGRA test over another.
PMCID: PMC3476553  PMID: 23997776
Dialysis; Host; Immunocompromised; Interferon-gamma release assay; Latent tuberculosis infection; Tuberculin skin testing; Tuberculosis
21.  Heparin-Binding Haemagglutinin, a New Tool for the Detection of Latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in Hemodialysis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71088.
Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and latently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (LTBI) are at higher risk to develop tuberculosis (TB) than healthy subjects. Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) were reported to be more sensitive than tuberculin skin tests for the detection of infected individuals in dialysis patients.
On 143 dialysis patients prospectively enrolled, we compared the results from the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold assay (QFT), to those of an IGRA in response to in vitro stimulation of circulating mononuclear cells with the mycobacterial latency antigen Heparin-Binding Haemagglutinin purified from Mycobacterium bovis BCG (native HBHA, nHBHA).
Seven patients had a past history of active TB and 1 had an undetermined result with both IGRAs. Among the other 135 patients, 94 had concordant results with the QFT and nHBHA-IGRA, 40.0% being negative and therefore not latently infected, and 29.6% being positive and thus LTBI. Discrepant results between these tests were found for 36 patients positive only with the nHBHA-IGRA and 5 only with the QFT.
The nHBHA-IGRA is more sensitive than the QFT for the detection of LTBI dialysis patients, and follow-up of the patients will allow us to define the clinical significance of discrepant results between the nHBHA-IGRA and the QFT.
PMCID: PMC3733734  PMID: 23940693
22.  Key Role of Effector Memory CD4+ T Lymphocytes in a Short-Incubation Heparin-Binding Hemagglutinin Gamma Interferon Release Assay for the Detection of Latent Tuberculosis 
The treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in target populations is one of the current WHO strategies for preventing active tuberculosis (TB) infection and reducing the Mycobacterium tuberculosis reservoir. Therefore, powerful LTBI screening tools are indispensable. A gamma interferon release assay (IGRA) in response to the stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells by the latency antigen native heparin-binding hemagglutinin (nHBHA-IGRA) has proven its potential for this purpose. We have evaluated its possible optimization through a reduction of incubation time from 96 to 24 h, while compensating for this by adding interleukin 7 (IL-7) to the medium. We have also investigated the phenotypes of the gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing cells after both short and long incubation times. One hundred thirty-one nonimmunocompromised patients were recruited from 3 Brussels-based university hospitals. They were divided into 1 of 4 subgroups according to their M. tuberculosis infection status (LTBI, TB infection, undetermined M. tuberculosis infection status, and noninfected controls). The novel 24-h nHBHA-IGRA was performed for all subjects, and a simultaneous 96-h classical HBHA-IGRA was performed for 79 individuals. The results showed a good correlation between the two tests, and the novel 24-h nHBHA-IGRA maintained the principal advantages of the classical test, namely, a high specificity for LTBI diagnosis, an absence of interference of Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination during infancy, and a relative discrimination between LTBI and TB infection. Whereas the commercialized IGRAs show a greater sensitivity for recent than for remote M. tuberculosis infections, the 24-h nHBHA-IGRA appears to have comparable diagnostic powers for recent and remote LTBI. The IFN-γ detected by the 24-h nHBHA-IGRA was mainly secreted by effector memory CD4+ T lymphocytes, a finding suggestive of continuous HBHA presentation during latency.
PMCID: PMC3957667  PMID: 24391135
23.  Contribution of Interferon gamma release assays testing to the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection in HIV-infected patients: A comparison of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In Tube, T-SPOT.TB and tuberculin skin test 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:169.
Diagnosis and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is the most effective strategy to control tuberculosis (TB) among patients with HIV infection. The tuberculin skin test (TST) was the only available method to identify LTBI. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the usefulness of the interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs): QuantiFERON-tuberculosis (TB) Gold-In-Tube test (QFG) and T-SPOT.TB for the diagnosis of LTBI in a diverse cohort of HIV-infected patients.
A prospective study was carried out in consecutive patients cared for in a single institution in Spain from January 2009 to October 2010. IGRAs and TST were performed simultaneously. TST induration ≥ 5 mm was considered positive.
QFG, T-SPOT.TB and TST were performed in 373 subjects. Median CD4 cell count was 470/μl with a median nadir of 150/μl. TST, QFG and T-SPOT.TB were positive in 13.3%, 7.5% and 18.5% cases respectively. Among 277 patients with neither past or current TB nor previous treatment for LTBI and who had TST results, a positive TST result was obtained in 20 (7.2%) cases. When adding QFG results to TST, there were a total of 26 (8.6%) diagnoses of LTBI. When the results of both IGRAs were added, the number of diagnoses increased to 54 (17.9%) (incremental difference: 10.7% [95% confidence interval [CI]:5.3-16.2%] [p < 0.001]), and when both IGRAs were added, the number of diagnoses reached 56 (18.5%) (incremental difference: 11.3% [95% CI:5.7%–16.9%] [p < 0.001]). Patients with a CD4 cell count greater than 500 cells/μl and prior stay in prison were more likely to have a diagnosis of LTBI by TST and/or QFG and/or T-SPOT.TB (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 3.8; 95% CI, 1.4 – 9.9; and aOR: 3.3; 95% CI, 1.3 – 8.3, respectively).
IGRAs were more sensitive than TST for diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection in HIV-infected patients. Dual sequential testing with TST and IGRAs may be the optimal approach for LTBI screening in this population.
PMCID: PMC3482589  PMID: 22849726
24.  Serial IGRA testing of trainees in the healthcare sector in a country with low incidence for tuberculosis – a prospective cohort study 
Background: Healthcare workers (HCW) are a risk group for tuberculosis (TB). That is why interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) serial testing is performed on HCWs repeatedly exposed to infectious patients or materials. However, the variability of IGRA in serial testing is not yet well understood. We therefore analysed the prevalence of positive IGRA results as well as conversion and reversion rates in the serial testing of healthcare trainees in a low-incidence country.
Methods: In a prospective cohort study, all trainees (n=194) who began training as a nurse or healthcare worker at the Vivantes Healthcare Training Institute in Berlin on 1 October 2008 or 1 April 2009 were IGRA-tested at three different times during the three years of training. Socio-demographic data and possible risk factors (e.g., TB contacts, time spent abroad, area of work) were recorded by means of a standardised questionnaire. The QuantiFERON Gold In-Tube (QFT) was used as an IGRA.
Results: At the beginning of the training the cohort comprised 194 trainees. 70% were female. Their average age was 23. The prevalence of positive QFT was 2.1% (4/194). In the first follow-up test, 2 out of 154 (1.3%) tested IGRA-positive, 151 (98%) had constantly negative results. One IGRA was constantly positive (0.6%) and there was one conversion and one reversion (0.6% respectively). In the second follow-up (n=142) there was again one conversion (0.7%), one reversion and the one constantly positive test result in all three QFT. This trainee had active TB in 2002. All other test results were constantly negative (n=139; 98%). No case of active tuberculosis was diagnosed over the three-year observation period. Contact with TB patients was reported by 42 (29.6%) trainees during the follow-up. The two trainees with a conversion in QFT had no known contact with TB patients. Discordant results in the three consecutive QFT were observed in three trainees (2.1%). Using a borderline zone from 0.2–0.7 IU/mL reduced the number of trainees with discordant results from three to one – a reversion.
Conclusion: The prevalence rate of latent TB infection is low in healthcare trainees without known risk factors for TB infection in their history. The infection risk seems to be low in this population even though contacts with TB patients during the training were reported. Introducing a borderline zone for the interpretation of reversions and conversions in this cohort appears to be safe and reduces the number of discordant results and helps to avoid unnecessary chest X-rays and preventive treatment.
PMCID: PMC3857277  PMID: 24327943
tuberculosis; serial testing; interferon-gamma release assay; healthcare workers; students; occupational disease; latent tuberculosis infection
25.  Predictive value of interferon-γ release assays for incident active tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2011;12(1):45-55.
We aimed to assess whether interferon-γ release assays (IGRAs) can predict the development of active tuberculosis and whether the predictive ability of these tests is better than that of the tuberculin skin test (TST).
Longitudinal studies of the predictive value for active tuberculosis of in-house or commercial IGRAs were identified through searches of PubMed, Embase, Biosis, and Web of Science and complementary manual searches up to June 30, 2011. Eligible studies included adults or children, with or without HIV, who were free of active tuberculosis at study baseline. We summarised incidence rates in forest plots and pooled data with random-effects models when appropriate. We calculated incidence rate ratios (IRR) for rates of disease progression in IGRA-positive versus IGRA-negative individuals.
15 studies had a combined sample size of 26 680 participants. Incidence of tuberculosis during a median follow-up of 4 years (IQR 2–6), even in IGRA-positive individuals, was 4–48 cases per 1000 person-years. Seven studies with no possibility of incorporation bias and reporting baseline stratification on the basis of IGRA results showed a moderate association between positive results and subsequent tuberculosis (pooled unadjusted IRR 2·10, 95% CI 1·42–3·08). Compared with test-negative results, IGRA-positive and TST-positive results were much the same with regard to the risk of tuberculosis (pooled IRR in the five studies that used both was 2·11 [95% CI 1·29–3·46] for IGRA vs 1·60 [0·94–2·72] for TST at the 10 mm cutoff). However, the proportion of IGRA-positive individuals in seven of 11 studies that assessed both IGRAs and TST was generally lower than TST-positive individuals.
Neither IGRAs nor the TST have high accuracy for the prediction of active tuberculosis, although use of IGRAs in some populations might reduce the number of people considered for preventive treatment. Until more predictive biomarkers are identified, existing tests for latent tuberculosis infection should be chosen on the basis of relative specificity in different populations, logistics, cost, and patients’ preferences rather than on predictive ability alone.
Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO), Wellcome Trust, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, UK Medical Research Council, and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.
PMCID: PMC3568693  PMID: 21846592

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