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1.  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
2.  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
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.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  In Vitro Immunomodulation of a Whole Blood IFN-γ Release Assay Enhances T Cell Responses in Subjects with Latent Tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48027.
Activation of innate immunity via pathogen recognition receptors (PRR) modulates adaptive immune responses. PRR ligands are being exploited as vaccine adjuvants and as therapeutics, but their utility in diagnostics has not been explored. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) are functional T cell assays used to diagnose latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI); however, novel approaches are needed to improve their sensitivity.
In vitro immunomodulation of a whole blood IGRA (QuantiFERON®-TB GOLD In-Tube) with Toll-like receptor agonists poly(I:C), LPS, and imiquimod was performed on blood from subjects with LTBI and negative controls.
In vitro immunomodulation significantly enhanced the response of T cells stimulated with M. tuberculosis antigens from subjects with LTBI but not from uninfected controls. Immunomodulation of IGRA revealed T cell responses in subjects with LTBI whose T cells otherwise do not respond to in vitro stimulation with antigens alone. Similar to their in vivo functions, addition of poly(I:C) and LPS to whole blood induced secretion of inflammatory cytokines and IFN-α and enhanced the surface expression of antigen presenting and costimulatory molecules on antigen presenting cells.
In vitro immunomodulation of whole blood IGRA may be an effective strategy for enhancing the sensitivity of T cells for diagnosis of LTBI.
PMCID: PMC3483295  PMID: 23144722
8.  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
9.  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
10.  New tools for detecting latent tuberculosis infection: evaluation of RD1-specific long-term response 
Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) were designed to detect latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). However, discrepancies were found between the tuberculin skin test (TST) and IGRAs results that cannot be attributed to prior Bacille Calmètte Guerin vaccinations. The aim of this study was to evaluate tools for improving LTBI diagnosis by analyzing the IFN-γ response to RD1 proteins in prolonged (long-term response) whole blood tests in those subjects resulting negative to assays such as QuantiFERON-TB Gold In tube (QFT-IT).
The study population included 106 healthy TST+ individuals with suspected LTBI (recent contact of smear-positive TB and homeless) consecutively enrolled. As controls, 13 healthy subjects unexposed to M. tuberculosis (TST-, QFT-IT-) and 29 subjects with cured pulmonary TB were enrolled. IFN-γ whole blood response to RD1 proteins and QFT-IT were evaluated at day 1 post-culture. A prolonged test evaluating long-term IFN-γ response (7-day) to RD1 proteins in diluted whole blood was performed.
Among the enrolled TST+ subjects with suspected LTBI, 70/106 (66.0%) responded to QFT-IT and 64/106 (60.3%) to RD1 proteins at day 1. To evaluate whether a prolonged test could improve the detection of LTBI, we set up the test using cured TB patients (with a microbiologically diagnosed past pulmonary disease) who resulted QFT-IT-negative and healthy controls as comparator groups. Using this assay, a statistically significant difference was found between IFN-γ levels in cured TB patients compared to healthy controls (p < 0.006). Based on these data, we constructed a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and we calculated a cut-off. Based on the cut-off value, we found that among the 36 enrolled TST+ subjects with suspected LTBI not responding to QFT-IT, a long term response to RD1 proteins was detected in 11 subjects (30.6%).
These results indicate that IFN-γ long-term response to M. tuberculosis RD1 antigens may be used to detect past infection with M. tuberculosis and may help to identify additional individuals with LTBI who resulted negative in the short-term tests. These data may provide useful information for improving immunodiagnostic tests for tuberculosis infection, especially in individuals at high risk for active TB.
PMCID: PMC2784468  PMID: 19930588
11.  Factors associated with latent tuberculosis among asylum seekers in Switzerland: a cross-sectional study in Vaud County 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:285.
Screening and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in asylum seekers (AS) may prevent future cases of tuberculosis. As the screening with Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) is costly, the objective of this study was to assess which factors were associated with LTBI and to define a score allowing the selection of AS with the highest risk of LTBI.
In across-sectional study, AS seekers recently arrived in Vaud County, after screening for tuberculosis at the border were offered screening for LTBI with T-SPOT.TB and questionnaire on potentially risk factors. The factors associated with LTBI were analyzed by univariate and multivariate regression.
Among 393 adult AS, 98 (24.93%) had a positive IGRA response, five of them with active tuberculosis previously undetected. Six factors associated with LTBI were identified in multivariate analysis: origin, travel conditions, marital status, cough, age and prior TB exposure. Their combination leads to a robust LTBI predictive score.
The prevalence of LTBI and active tuberculosis in AS is high. A predictive score integrating six factors could identify the asylum seekers with the highest risk for LTBI.
PMCID: PMC3551725  PMID: 23121680
Asylum seeker; Latent tuberculosis infection; Tuberculosis; Risk factors; Predictive score; Interferon gamma release assay
12.  Screening for tuberculosis infection prior to initiation of anti-TNF therapy 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2008;8(2):147-152.
T-cell interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are more specific and probably more sensitive than the tuberculin skin test (TST) for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID) and suspected LTBI who are candidates for anti-TNF therapy are at a significant risk of TB reactivation yet are prone to false-negative TST results because they are already on immunosuppressive medications. The role of these new blood tests in this patient population is therefore of considerable interest but is currently unclear. The limited published evidence-base shows that agreement between IGRA and TST results is poor in patients with IMID compared to patients without IMID, due to lower proportions of TST-positive results in patients with IMID. Discordant TST-positive, IGRA-negative results are associated with prior BCG vaccination and discordant TST-negative, IGRA-positive results are associated with steroid therapy. Notably, positive IGRA results are more closely associated with the presence of risk factors for LTBI than TST. The percentage of indeterminate IGRAs can be up to 12%. IGRA results in patients already taking anti-TNF agents currently remain uninterpretable. Given the clinical imperative to prevent reactivation of TB in patients starting anti-TNF therapy, screening algorithms should maximise diagnostic sensitivity for detection of LTBI. Therefore, a positive result to either an IGRA or TST, in addition to currently recommended clinical screening for risk factors for LTBI, should prompt consideration of preventive treatment of LTBI in this population.
PMCID: PMC2593775  PMID: 18706526
Anti-TNF therapy; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Tuberculin skin test; T-cell interferon-gamma release assays
13.  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
14.  Apoptosis-associated biomarkers in tuberculosis: promising for diagnosis and prognosis prediction 
Apoptosis-associated biomarkers are rarely studied, especially their role in predicting the development of tuberculosis (TB) from latent TB infection and in prognostication.
Patients with TB and interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA)-positive and IGRA-negative family contacts were evaluated to analyze changes in apoptosis-associated serum biomarkers, which included decoy receptor 3 (DcR3), prostaglandin 2 (PGE2), and lipoxin. The prognostic implications of these serum biomarkers were also analyzed.
One hundred TB patients and 92 IGRA-negative and 91 IGRA-positive family contacts were recruited. The DcR3 and PGE2 levels decreased from the IGRA-negative group to the IGRA-positive group, and peaked in the TB group. Lipoxin decreased to trough in the TB group. The three apoptosis serum markers and age were independent factors discriminating active TB from latent TB infection. In active TB, older age, co-morbidity, and higher serum DcR3 and monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 were independently associated with poorer six-month survival.
Apoptosis-associated serum biomarkers change along with the status of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. In close contacts with positive IGRA, high DcR3 and PGE2 and low lipoxin may increase the probability of active TB. Older age, co-morbidity, and high DcR3 and MCP-1 levels might be important prognostic factors that warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3566962  PMID: 23356448
Apoptosis; Decoy receptor 3; Latent tuberculosis infection; Lipoxin; Prostaglandin E2; Tuberculosis
15.  Dynamics of interferon-gamma release assay and cytokine profiles in blood and respiratory tract specimens from mice with tuberculosis and the effect of therapy 
There are limitations on diagnostic methods to differentiate between active and latent tuberculosis (TB), and the prediction of latent progression to TB disease is yet complex. Traditionally, tuberculosis-specific host immune response was visualized using the tuberculin skin test. Nowadays, IFN-γ release assays (IGRA) provide a more specific and sensitive tool, by which exposure to Mtb could be determined. However, the merit of IGRA aids in diagnosing active TB is yet unclear. We adapted IGRA for use in mice, and quantifying bead-based flow cytometry techniques were used to assess cytokine profiles during the course of untreated infection and to investigate the value of IGRA and cytokines as biomarkers for therapy response. High variability of IGRA results during progression of active TB infection related to various phases of infection was obtained. However, a significant decrease in IGRA results and in levels of IFN-γ, IL-17, IP-10 or MIG was observed and appeared to be associated with successful therapy. This outcome does not support the value of IGRA to accurately diagnose active TB or to monitor infection progression. However, IGRA proved to be a useful biomarker to monitor therapy success. In addition, different cytokines might serve as biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3346930  PMID: 21983896
Biomedicine; Internal Medicine; Medical Microbiology
16.  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
17.  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
18.  The Use of Interferon Gamma Release Assays in the Diagnosis of Active Tuberculosis 
Interferon gamma release assays (IGRAs) are in vitro immunologic diagnostic tests used to identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. They cannot differentiate between latent and active infections. The cutoff suggested by the manufacturer is 0.35 IU/mL for latent tuberculosis. As IGRA tests were recently approved for the differential diagnosis of active tuberculosis, we assessed the diagnostic accuracy of the latest generation IGRA for detection of active tuberculosis in a low-incidence area in Germany. Our consecutive case series includes 61 HIV negative, Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture positive patients, as well as 234 control patients. The retrospective analysis was performed over a period of two years. In 11/61 patients with active tuberculosis (18.0%) the test result was <0.35 IU/mL, resulting in a sensitivity of 0.82. We recommend establishing a new cut-off value for the differential diagnosis of active tuberculosis assessed by prospective clinical studies and in various regions with high and low prevalence of tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3335531  PMID: 22567275
19.  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
20.  Specificity of a whole blood IGRA in German nursing students 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:245.
Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRA) are used for tuberculosis (TB) screening in healthcare workers (HCWs). However, data on specificity of IGRA in serial testing of HCWs is sparse. Therefore the specificity and the negative predictive value of the IGRA - QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT) - in German nursing students was investigated.
194 nursing students at the start of their professional career were tested with the QFT. 14 nursing students were excluded from the specificity analysis, due to exposure to mycobacterium tuberculosis. Two of these subjects were QFT- positive. None of them developed disease during the year of follow-up. A study group of 180 students, all with very low risk of prior TB infection, remained in the specificity analysis. Subjects were monitored for at least two years with respect to the development of active TB disease. IGRA was performed at the start of the training and after one year.
The mean age of the study group (n = 180) was 23 years (range 18-53) with 70.9% female and 99.4% German born. The specificity of QFT was 98.9% (178/180; 95% CI 0.96-0.99); lowering the cut-off from 0.35 IU/ml to 0.1 IU/ml would have decreased specificity only slightly to 97.8% (176/180; 95% CI 0.94-0.99). Of the 154 nursing students available for re-testing, one student who initially scored positive reverted to negative, and one student initially negative converted to positive. None of the monitored group with initially negative QFT results developed TB disease, indicating a high negative predictive value of the IGRA in this population.
Following our data, QFT can serve as an effective tool in pre-employment TB screenings for HCWs. As its negative results were stable over time, specificity of the QFT in serial testing of HCWs is high. As the risk of acquiring TB infection in the German healthcare system appears to be low, our data supports the recommendation of performing TB screening only in those HCWs with known contact to TB patients or infectious materials.
PMCID: PMC3189894  PMID: 21929799
21.  Test Variability of the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube Assay in Clinical Practice 
Rationale: Although IFN-γ release assays (IGRAs) are widely used to screen for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in high-income countries, published data on repeatability are limited.
Objectives: To determine IGRA repeatability.
Methods: The study population included consecutive patients referred to The Methodist Hospital (Houston, TX) between August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011 for latent tuberculosis (TB) infection screening with an IGRA (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube; Cellestis, Carnegie, Australia). We performed multiple IGRA tests using leftover stimulated plasma according to a prospectively formulated quality control protocol. We analyzed agreement in interpretation of test results classified according to manufacturer-recommended criteria and repeatability of quantitative TB response.
Measurements and Main Results: During the study period, 1,086 test results were obtained from 543 subjects. Per the manufacturer’s cut-point, the result of the second test was discordant from that of the first in 28 (8%) of 366 patients with valid test results, including 13 with an initial negative result and 15 with an initial positive result. Although agreement between repeat test results was high (κ = 0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.79–0.90), the normal expected range of within-subject variability in TB response on retesting included differences of ± 0.60 IU/ml for all individuals (coefficient of variation, 14%), and ± 0.24 IU/ml (coefficient of variation, 27%) for individuals whose initial TB response was between 0.25 and 0.80 IU/ml.
Conclusions: There is substantial variability in TB response when IGRAs are repeated using the same patient sample. IGRA results should be interpreted cautiously when TB response is near interpretation cut-points.
PMCID: PMC3570654  PMID: 23103734
interferon-γ release assay; QuantiFERON; repeatability; imprecision
22.  High prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection among injection drug users in Tijuana, Mexico 
We studied prevalence and correlates of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana, Mexico, where tuberculosis (TB) is endemic.
IDUs aged ⩾18 years were recruited via respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and underwent standardized interviews, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody testing and LTBI screening using QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube, a whole-blood interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA). LTBI prevalence was estimated and correlates were identified using RDS-weighted logistic regression.
Of 1020 IDUs, 681 (67%) tested IGRA-positive and 44 (4%) tested HIV-positive. Mean age was 37 years, 88% were male and 98% were Mexican-born. IGRA positivity was associated with recruitment nearest the US border (aOR 1.64, 95%CI 1.09–2.48), increasing years of injection (aOR 1.20/5 years, 95%CI 1.07–1.34), and years lived in Tijuana (aOR 1.10/5 years, 95%CI 1.03–1.18). Speaking some English (aOR 0.38, 95%CI 0.25–0.57) and injecting most often at home in the past 6 months (aOR 0.68, 95%CI 0.45–0.99) were inversely associated with IGRA positivity.
Increased LTBI prevalence among IDUs in Tijuana appears to be associated with greater drug involvement. Given the high risk for HIV infection among Tijuana’s IDUs, interventions are urgently needed to prevent HIV infection and treat LTBI among IDUs before these epidemics collide.
PMCID: PMC2744313  PMID: 19383197
injection drug use; tuberculosis; HIV; Mexico; interferon-gamma release assay; QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube assay; latent TB infection
23.  Persistently elevated T cell interferon-γ responses after treatment for latent tuberculosis infection among health care workers in India: a preliminary report 
T cell-based interferon-γ (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) are novel tests for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). It has been suggested that T cell responses may be correlated with bacterial burden and, therefore, IGRAs may have a role in monitoring treatment response. We investigated IFN-γ responses to specific TB antigens among Indian health care workers (HCWs) before, and after LTBI preventive therapy.
In 2004, we established a cohort of HCWs who underwent tuberculin skin testing (TST) and a whole-blood IGRA (QuantiFERON-TB-Gold In-Tube [QFT-G], Cellestis Ltd, Victoria, Australia) at a rural hospital in India. HCWs positive by either test were offered 6 months of isoniazid (INH) preventive therapy. Among the HCWs who underwent therapy, we prospectively followed-up 10 nursing students who were positive by both tests at baseline. The QFT-G assay was repeated 4 and 10 months after INH treatment completion (i.e. approximately 12 months and 18 months after the initial testing). IFN-γ responses to ESAT-6, CFP-10 and TB7.7 peptides were measured using ELISA, and IFN-γ ≥0.35 IU/mL was used to define a positive QFT-G test result.
All participants (N = 10) reported direct contact with smear-positive TB patients at baseline, during and after LTBI treatment. All participants except one started treatment with high baseline IFN-γ responses (median 10.0 IU/mL). The second QFT-G was positive in 9 of 10 participants, but IFN-γ responses had declined (median 5.0 IU/mL); however, this difference was not significant (P = 0.10). The third QFT-G assay continued to be positive in 9 of 10 participants, with persistently elevated IFN-γ responses (median 7.9 IU/mL; P = 0.32 for difference against baseline average).
In an environment with ongoing, intensive nosocomial exposure, HCWs had strong IFN-γ responses at baseline, and continued to have persistently elevated responses, despite LTBI treatment. It is plausible that persistence of infection and/or re-infection might account for this phenomenon. Our preliminary findings need confirmation in larger studies in high transmission settings. Specifically, research is needed to study T cell kinetics during LTBI treatment, and determine the effect of recurrent exposures on host cellular immune responses.
PMCID: PMC1481589  PMID: 16722616
24.  Assessment of Imprecision in Gamma Interferon Release Assays for the Detection of Exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis▿  
New gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) to detect an exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis have recently been launched. The majority of the studies in temperate-climate countries agree that these methods have superior specificity and equal or even superior sensitivity over tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI). However, reproducibility data of IGRAs are virtually missing. We assessed within-run, between-run, and total imprecision of two commercial IGRAs by testing samples from subjects with a stable state of TB infection or treated pulmonary TB, a sample from a healthy volunteer, and internal quality control samples. We calculated coefficients of variance (CV%s) to describe assays variability and compared the obtained results to the reported CV%s for other commercial immunodiagnostic methods. We illustrate an example of assay variability near the cutoff zone to demonstrate the necessity of a gray zone. Due to the strict adherence to the standard operation procedures (SOP) adopted in our laboratory, the total imprecision of enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT)- and enzyme immunoassay (EIA)-based IGRAs was at a maximum CV% of 37.8% for the samples with moderate and high reactivities. Imprecision of testing samples with very low reactivity levels or nonreactive samples may, however, exceed 100%. In conclusion, despite multiple steps of the method performance, the analytical imprecision of IGRAs, which in our study design included also between-lot variability and had a component of normal biological variation, was well in accordance with the reported imprecisions of other manual immunodiagnostic tests. The recognition of the variability around the cutoff point advocates the use of a gray zone to avoid ambiguous result interpretations.
PMCID: PMC2849328  PMID: 20181768
25.  Comparison of two interferon gamma release assays in the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and disease in The Gambia 
IFN-γ Release Assays (IGRAs) have been licensed for the diagnosis of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Their performance may depend on assay format and may vary across populations and settings. We compared the diagnostic performance of an in-house T -cell and commercial whole blood-based IGRAs for the diagnosis of LTBI and TB disease in The Gambia.
Newly diagnosed sputum smear positive cases and their household contacts were recruited. Cases and contacts were bled for IGRA and contacts had a Mantoux skin test. We assessed agreement and discordance between the tests and categorized a contact's level of M. tuberculosis exposure according to where s/he slept relative to a case: the same room, same house or a different house. We assessed the relationship between exposure and test results by multiple logistic regression.
In 80 newly diagnosed TB cases, the sensitivity of ELISPOT was 78.7% and for QFT-GIT was 64.0% (p = 0.047). Of 194 household contacts 57.1% and 58.8% were positive for ELISPOT and QFT-GIT respectively. The overall agreement between both IGRAs for LTBI in contacts was 71.4% and there was no significant discordance (p = 0.29). There was significant discordance between the IGRAs and TST. Neither IGRA nor TST had evidence of false positive results because of Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccination. However, agreement between QFT-GIT and TST as well as discordance between both IGRAs and TST were associated with BCG vaccination. Both IGRAs responded to the M. tuberculosis exposure gradient and were positively associated with increasing TST induration (p = 0.003 for ELISPOT and p = 0.001 for QFT-GIT).
The ELISPOT test is more sensitive than the QFT-GIT for diagnosing TB disease. The two tests perform similarly in the diagnosis of LTBI in TB contacts. Significant discordance between the two IGRAs and between each and the TST remain largely unexplained.
PMCID: PMC2216027  PMID: 17961228

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