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1.  Tuberculin Skin Test Reversion following Isoniazid Preventive Therapy Reflects Diversity of Immune Response to Primary Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96613.
Rationale
Healthy household contacts (HHC) of individuals with Tuberculosis (TB) with Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) conversions are considered to harbor latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), and at risk for TB. The immunologic, clinical, and public health implications of TST reversions that occur following Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) remain controversial.
Objectives
To measure frequency of TST reversion following IPT, and variation in interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) responses to Mtb, in healthy Ugandan TB HHC with primary Mtb infection evidenced by TST conversion.
Methods
Prospective cohort study of healthy, HIV-uninfected, TST-negative TB HHC with TST conversions. Repeat TST was performed 12 months following conversion (3 months following completion of 9 month IPT course) to assess for stable conversion vs. reversion. Whole blood IFN-γ responses to Mtb antigen 85B (MtbA85B) and whole Mtb bacilli (wMtb) were measured in a subset (n = 27 and n = 42, respectively) at enrollment and TST conversion, prior to initiation of IPT.
Results
Of 122 subjects, TST reversion was noted in 25 (20.5%). There were no significant differences in demographic, clinical, or exposure variables between reverters and stable converters. At conversion, reverters had significantly smaller TST compared to stable converters (13.7 mm vs 16.4 mm, respectively; p = 0.003). At enrollment, there were no significant differences in IFN-γ responses to MtbA85B or wMTB between groups. At conversion, stable converters demonstrated significant increases in IFN-γ responses to Ag85B and wMtb compared to enrollment (p = 0.001, p<0.001, respectively), while there were no significant changes among reverters.
Conclusions
TST reversion following IPT is common following primary Mtb infection and associated with unique patterns of Mtb-induced IFN-γ production. We have demonstrated that immune responses to primary Mtb infection are heterogeneous, and submit that prospective longitudinal studies of cell mediated immune responses to Mtb infection be prioritized to identify immune phenotypes protective against development of TB disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096613
PMCID: PMC4010490  PMID: 24796677
2.  Broad Adaptive Immune Responses to M. tuberculosis Antigens Precede TST Conversion in Tuberculosis Exposed Household Contacts in a TB-Endemic Setting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116268.
Background
The identification of Mycobacterium-tuberculosis (Mtb) infected individuals remains a challenge due to an insufficient understanding of immune responses detected with the current diagnostic tests for latent tuberculosis i.e. the tuberculin skin test (TST) or IFN–γ release assays (IGRAs) and an inability to distinguish infection stages with current immunologic assays. Further classification based on markers other than IFN–γ may help to define markers of early Mtb infection.
Methods
We assessed the TST status of Mtb-exposed household contacts at baseline and at 6 months. Contacts were classified into those with initial positive TST (TST+); those with baseline negative TST but TST conversion at 6 months (TST converters, TSTC) and those with persistently negative TST (PTST−). We assessed their short- and long-term immune responses to PPD and ESAT–6/CFP–10 (EC) via IFN–γ ELISPOT and a multiplex cytokine array in relation to TST status and compared them to those of TB cases to identify immune profiles associated with a spectrum of infection stages.
Results
After 1 and 6 days stimulation with EC, 12 cytokines (IFN–γ, IL–2, IP–10, TNF–α, IL–13, IL–17, IL–10, GMCSF, MIP–1β, MCP–3, IL–2RA and IL–1A) were not different in TSTC compared to TST+ suggesting that robust adaptive Mtb-specific immune responses precede TST conversion. Stratifying contacts by baseline IFN–γ ELISPOT to EC in combination with TST results revealed that IP–10 and IL–17 were highest in the group of TST converters with positive baseline ELISPOT, suggesting they might be markers for recent infection.
Conclusion
We describe a detailed analysis of Mtb-specific biomarker profiles in exposed household contacts in a TB endemic area that provides insights into the dynamic immune responses to Mtb infection and may help to identify biomarkers for ‘at-risk’ populations beyond TST and IGRA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116268
PMCID: PMC4280211  PMID: 25549338
3.  Clinical and epidemiological characteristics of individuals resistant to M. tuberculosis infection in a longitudinal TB household contact study in Kampala, Uganda 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:352.
Background
Despite sustained exposure to a person with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), some M. tuberculosis (Mtb) exposed individuals maintain a negative tuberculin skin test (TST). Our objective was to characterize these persistently negative TST (PTST-) individuals and compare them to TST converters (TSTC) and individuals who are TST positive at study enrollment.
Methods
During a TB household contact study in Kampala, Uganda, PTST-, TSTC, and TST + individuals were identified. PTST- individuals maintained a negative TST over a 2 year observation period despite prolonged exposure to an infectious tuberculosis (TB) case. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics were compared, a risk score developed by another group to capture risk for Mtb infection was computed, and an ordinal regression was performed.
Results
When analyzed independently, epidemiological risk factors increased in prevalence from PTST- to TSTC to TST+. An ordinal regression model suggested age (p < 0.01), number of windows (p < 0.01) and people (p = 0.07) in the home, and sleeping in the same room (p < 0.01) were associated with PTST- and TSTC. As these factors do not exist in isolation, we examined a risk score, which reflects an accumulation of risk factors. This compound exposure score did not differ significantly between PTST-, TSTC, and TST+, except for the 5–15 age group (p = 0.009).
Conclusions
Though many individual factors differed across all three groups, an exposure risk score reflecting a collection of risk factors did not differ for PTST-, TSTC and TST + young children and adults. This is the first study to rigorously characterize the epidemiologic risk profile of individuals with persistently negative TSTs despite close exposure to a person with TB. Additional studies are needed to characterize possible epidemiologic and host factors associated with this phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-352
PMCID: PMC4091673  PMID: 24970328
Transmission risk factors; Latent Mtb infection; Exposure; Household characteristics; PPD test
4.  Whole Blood Interferon-Gamma Responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Antigens in Young Household Contacts of Persons with Tuberculosis in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3407.
Background
Due to immunologic immaturity, IFN-γ-producing T cell responses may be decreased in young children compared to adults, thus we hypothesized that IFN-γ responses to mycobacterial antigens in household contacts exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) would be impaired in young children relative to adults. The objective of this study was to compare whole blood IFN-γ production in response to mycobacterial antigens between children and adults in Uganda.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We studied household contacts of persons with culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) enrolled in a cohort study conducted in Kampala, Uganda. Whole blood IFN-γ production in response to Mtb culture-filtrate antigens was measured by ELISA and compared between infants (<2 years old, n = 80), young children (2 <5 years old, n = 216), older children (5 <15 years old, n = 443) and adults (≥15 years old, n = 528). We evaluated the relationship between IFN-γ responses and the tuberculin skin test (TST), and between IFN-γ responses and epidemiologic factors that reflect exposure to Mtb, and the effect of prior BCG vaccination on IFN-γ responses. Young household contacts demonstrated robust IFN-γ responses comparable to those of adults that were associated with TST and known risk factors for infection. There was no effect of prior BCG immunization on the IFN-γ response.
Conclusions/Significance
Young children in a TB endemic setting can mount robust IFN-γ responses generally comparable to those of adults, and as in adults, these responses correlated with the TST and known epidemiologic risk factors for Mtb infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003407
PMCID: PMC2560997  PMID: 18923705
5.  Biomarker Changes Associated with Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) Conversion: A Two-Year Longitudinal Follow-Up Study in Exposed Household Contacts 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7444.
Background
A high prevalence (50–80%) of Tuberculin Skin Test Positivity (TST+ ≥10 mm indurations) has been reported in TB endemic countries. This pool forms a huge reservoir for new incident TB cases. However, immune biomarkers associated with TST conversion are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to identify immune biomarkers associated with TST conversion after acute Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) exposure.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A 24 month longitudinal study was carried out in a recently MTB exposed cohort of household contacts (HC = 93; 75% TST+). Control group consisted of unexposed community controls (EC = 59; 46%TST+). Cytokine secretion was assessed in whole blood cultures in response to either mycobacterial culture filtrate (CF) antigens or mitogens (PHA or LPS) using Elisa methodology. Compared to the EC group, the HC group at recruitment (Kruskal-Wallis Test) showed significantly suppressed IFN γ (p = 0.0001), raised IL-10 (p = 0.0005) and raised TNF α (p = 0.001) in response to CF irrespective of their TST status. Seventeen TST-HC, showed TST conversion when retested at 6 months. Post TST conversion (paired t tests) significant increases were observed for CF induced IFN γ (p = 0.038), IL-10 (p = 0.001) and IL-6 (p = 0.006). Cytokine responses were also compared in the exposed HC group with either recent infection [(TST converters (N = 17)] or previous infection [TST+ HC (N = 54)] at 0, 6, 12 and 24 months using ANOVA on repeated measures. Significant differences between the exposed HC groups were noted only at 6 months. CF induced IFN γ was higher in previously infected HC group (p = 0.038) while IL-10 was higher in recently infected HC group (p = 0.041). Mitogen induced cytokine secretion showed similar differences for different group.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results suggest that TST conversion is associated with early increases in IFN γ and IL-10 responses and precedes latency by several months post exposure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007444
PMCID: PMC2758599  PMID: 19826490
6.  Performance of a whole blood interferon gamma assay for detecting latent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in children 
Thorax  2006;61(7):616-620.
Background
The diagnosis of latent Mycobacteriumtuberculosis (MTB) infection with a tuberculin skin test (TST) in children is complicated by the potential influence of prior exposure to Bacille Calmette Geurin (BCG) vaccination or environmental mycobacteria. A whole blood assay has recently been developed to quantitatively measure interferon gamma (IFN‐γ) production by lymphocytes specific to the MTB antigens ESAT‐6 and CFP‐10, but its use and assessment in children has been limited. A study was undertaken to compare the performance of the whole blood IFN‐γ assay with the TST in diagnosing latent tuberculosis (TB) infection or TB disease in children in routine clinical practice.
Methods
One hundred and six children with a high risk of latent TB infection or TB disease were enrolled in the study. High risk was defined as contact with TB disease, clinical suspicion of TB disease, or recent arrival from an area of high TB prevalence. The whole blood IFN‐γ assay was undertaken in 101 children.
Results
Seventeen (17%) of the 101 assays yielded inconclusive results due to failure of positive or negative control assays. There was poor correlation between the whole blood IFN‐γ assay and the TST (kappa statistic 0.3) with 26 (70%) of the 37 children defined as latent TB infection by TST having a negative whole blood IFN‐γ assay. There were no instances of a positive whole blood IFN‐γ assay with a negative TST. Mitogen (positive) control IFN‐γ responses were significantly correlated with age (Spearman's coefficient = 0.53, p<0.001) and, in children with latent TB infection identified by TST, those with a positive IFN‐γ assay were older (median 12.9 v 6.92 years, respectively, p = 0.007). The whole blood IFN‐γ assay was positive in all nine children with TB disease.
Conclusion
There was poor agreement between the whole blood IFN‐γ assay and TST for the diagnosis of latent TB. The whole blood IFN‐γ assay may have lower sensitivity than the TST in diagnosing TB infection in children. A significant proportion of whole blood IFN‐γ assays fail when used as a screening assay in routine practice.
doi:10.1136/thx.2005.048033
PMCID: PMC2104654  PMID: 16601088
tuberculosis; interferon gamma; tuberculin skin test; Mantoux; diagnosis; children
7.  Longitudinal Assessment of an ELISPOT Test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e192.
Background
Very little longitudinal information is available regarding the performance of T cell-based tests for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. To address this deficiency, we conducted a longitudinal assessment of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot test (ELISPOT) test in comparison to the standard tuberculin skin test (TST).
Methods and Findings
In tuberculosis (TB) contacts we repeated ELISPOT tests 3 mo (n = 341) and 18 mo (n = 210) after recruitment and TSTs at 18 mo (n = 130). We evaluated factors for association with conversion and reversion and investigated suspected cases of TB. Of 207 ELISPOT-negative contacts, 51 (24.6%) had 3-mo ELISPOT conversion, which was associated with a positive recruitment TST (odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0–5.0, p = 0.048) and negatively associated with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.2–1.0, p = 0.06). Of 134 contacts, 54 (40.2%) underwent 3-mo ELISPOT reversion, which was less likely in those with a positive recruitment TST (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1–0.8, p = 0.014). Between 3 and 18 mo, 35/132 (26.5%) contacts underwent ELISPOT conversion and 28/78 (35.9%) underwent ELISPOT reversion. Of the 210 contacts with complete results, 73 (34.8%) were ELISPOT negative at all three time points; 36 (17.1%) were positive at all three time points. Between recruitment and 18 mo, 20 (27%) contacts had ELISPOT conversion; 37 (50%) had TST conversion, which was associated with a positive recruitment ELISPOT (OR 7.2, 95% CI 1.4–37.1, p = 0.019); 18 (32.7%) underwent ELISPOT reversion; and five (8.9%) underwent TST reversion. Results in 13 contacts diagnosed as having TB were mixed, but suggested higher TST sensitivity.
Conclusions
Both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur after M. tuberculosis exposure. Rapid ELISPOT reversion may reflect M. tuberculosis clearance or transition into dormancy and may contribute to the relatively low reported ELISPOT conversion rate. Therefore, a negative ELISPOT test for M. tuberculosis infection should be interpreted with caution.
Philip Hill and colleagues report that both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur afterM. tuberculosis exposure in an endemic country and that the ELISPOT results agree poorly with results from the tuberculin skin test.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection, usually of the lungs. People with active tuberculosis spread the causative bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in airborne droplets whenever they cough or sneeze. Most people exposed to M. tuberculosis in this way never become ill—their immune system successfully contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant in the body and can cause disease years later if host immunity declines because of, for example, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Consequently, to control the spread of tuberculosis, individuals who have been in contact with people with active tuberculosis need to be tested for infection with M. tuberculosis and treated with antituberculosis drugs if positive. The standard test for infection is the tuberculin skin test (TST). In this, bacterial antigens (proteins that the immune system recognize as foreign) are injected under the skin. The immune system of infected individuals attacks the antigen and produces a hard swelling at the injection site. Unfortunately, this test does not detect all M. tuberculosis infections and an alternative, laboratory-based test has recently been developed. During M. tuberculosis infections, immune system cells called T lymphocytes produce interferon gamma. This protein activates macrophages, immune system cells that kill bacteria. The ELISPOT (enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot) test measures interferon gamma production by T lymphocytes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Commercial ELISPOT tests are available for the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection, but little is known about how they perform when used in repeat tests in individuals or whether the TST or ELISPOT test is better at predicting later development of tuberculosis. In this study, the researchers investigated these questions in a longitudinal assessment of the ELISPOT test in Gambians exposed to active tuberculosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited people who had been in contact with active tuberculosis, did ELISPOT tests and TSTs at recruitment, then repeated the ELISPOT test after three months and both tests in some participants after 18 months. They analyzed how often ELISPOT conversion (a change from a negative to a positive result indicating the development of an active immune response) and reversion (a change from a positive to a negative result reflecting clearance of the bacteria or its entry into a dormant state) occurred, whether the TST results mirrored these changes, and which characteristics of the participants were associated with conversion or reversion. A quarter of participants who initially had a negative ELISPOT result had a positive result at three months, a conversion that was associated with a positive TST at recruitment. ELISPOT reversion at three months, by contrast, was associated with an initially negative TST and occurred in nearly half the participants. However, about a third of the participants had negative ELISPOT results at all three time points and a fifth had positive results at all times. Overall, the two tests agreed in 73% and 60% of the participants at recruitment and at 18 months, respectively. Finally, among the 13 contacts who developed active tuberculosis, some were initially positive in both tests but others showed subsequent conversion in one, both or neither test.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur after initial screening for M. tuberculosis infection. In addition, they suggest that the immune system responses to M. tuberculosis detected by TST and the ELISPOT test occur over different time scales and so the two tests might differ in their ability to detect M. tuberculosis infections at different times after exposure to the bacteria. Because very few contacts developed active tuberculosis, the findings do not indicate which test best predicts disease development after M. tuberculosis infection. Further studies are needed to provide this information and to unravel the complexities of ELISPOT conversion and reversion after exposure to M. tuberculosis. Importantly, however, the high frequency of ELISPOT reversion seen in this study suggests that a negative ELISPOT result may not reflect a lack of infection after exposure to M. tuberculosis and must, therefore, be interpreted with caution.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040192.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide fact sheets from the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination about tuberculosis, its testing and diagnosis, and its treatment
MedlinePlus Encyclopedia contains information on tuberculosis and the tuberculin skin test (in English and Spanish)
The American Lung Association offers fact sheets on tuberculosis and on the tuberculin skin test
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040192
PMCID: PMC1891317  PMID: 17564487
8.  Malnutrition and Helminth Infection Affect Performance of an Interferon γ–Release Assay 
Pediatrics  2010;126(6):e1522-e1529.
OBJECTIVE
We sought to compare the tuberculin skin test (TST) to the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube assay (QFT-IT) and assess the effects of malnourishment and intestinal helminth infection on QFT-IT results.
METHODS
In this population-based cross-sectional study from Dhaka, Bangladesh, we screened children for latent tuberculosis infection with the QFT-IT and TST. We assess the agreement between the TST and QFT-IT, risk factors associated with indeterminate QFT-IT results, and magnitude of interferon γ (IFN-γ) production.
RESULTS
Three hundred and two children (aged 11–15.3 years) were enrolled, including 93 (30.8%) who were malnourished. Of 251 participants who provided stool samples, 117 (46.6%) were infected with Ascaris lumbricoides and/or Trichuris trichiura. TST results were positive (≥10 mm) for 101 (33.4%) children and negative for 201 (66.6%) children. QFT-IT results were positive for 107 (35.4%) children, negative for 121 (40.1%) children, and indeterminate for 74 (24.5%) children. Agreement between the tests was moderate (κ = 0.55 [95% confidence interval: 0.44–0.65]; P < .0001) when excluding indeterminate results. Children with indeterminate QFT-IT results were separately compared with children with positive and negative QFT-IT results; malnutrition (P = .0006 and .0003), and helminth infection (P = .05 and .02), and the statistical interaction between these 2 terms (P = .03 and .004) were associated with indeterminate results. Higher levels of IFN-γ in response to tuberculosis antigens were associated with positive TST results (P < .0001); lower levels were associated with malnutrition (P = .02).
CONCLUSIONS
Malnutrition and helminth infections were associated with indeterminate QFT-IT results. Therefore, the presence of such conditions may limit the interpretability of QFT-IT results in children.
doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0885
PMCID: PMC3403682  PMID: 21059723
latent tuberculosis infection; interferon γ–release assay; pediatrics; malnutrition; helminth infection
9.  Longitudinal Analysis of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube in Children with Adult Household Tuberculosis Contact in South Africa: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26787.
Background
QuantiFERON-TB Gold In Tube (QFT-GIT) is a tool for detecting M. tuberculosis infection. However, interpretation and utility of serial QFT-GIT testing of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) contacts is not well understood. We compared TB prevalence between baseline and 6 months follow-up using QFT-GIT and tuberculin skin testing (TST) in children who were household contacts of adults with pulmonary TB in South Africa, and explored factors associated with QFT-GIT conversions and reversions.
Method
Prospective study with six month longitudinal follow-up.
Results
Among 270 enrolled pediatric contacts, 196 (73%) underwent 6-month follow-up testing. The 6-month prevalence estimate of MTB infection in pediatric contacts increased significantly from a baseline of 29% (79/270, 95%CI [24–35]) to 38% (103/270, 95% CI [32–44], p<0.001) using QFT-GIT; prevalence increased from a baseline of 28% (71/254, 95%CI [23–34]) to 33% (88/263, 95%CI [21–32], p = 0.002) using TST. Prevalence estimates were influenced by thresholds for positivity for TST, but not for QFT-GIT. Among 134 children with a negative or indeterminate baseline QFT-GIT, 24 (18%) converted to positive at follow-up; conversion rates did not differ significantly when using more stringent thresholds to define QFT-GIT conversion. Older age >10 years (AOR 8.9 95%CI [1.1–72]) and baseline TST positivity ≥5 mm (AOR 5.2 95%CI [1.2–23]) were associated with QFT-GIT conversion. Among 62 children with a positive baseline QFT-GIT, 9 (15%) reverted to negative; female gender (AOR 18.5 95%CI [1.1–321]; p = 0.04] was associated with reversion, while children with baseline positive TST were less likely to have QFT-GIT reversion (AOR 0.01 95%CI [0.001–0.24]).
Conclusion
Among pediatric contacts of adult household TB cases in South Africa, prevalence estimates of TB infection increased significantly from baseline to 6 months. Conversions and reversions occurred among pediatric TB contacts using QFT-GIT, but QFT-GIT conversion rates were less influenced by thresholds used for conversions than were TST conversion rates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026787
PMCID: PMC3204993  PMID: 22066009
10.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in Young Children: Analyzing the Performance of the Diagnostic Tests 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97992.
Objective
This study evaluated the performance of the Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) and Quantiferon-TB Gold in-Tube (QFT) and the possible association of factors which may modify their results in young children (0–6 years) with recent contact with an index tuberculosis case.
Materials and Methods
A cross-sectional study including 135 children was conducted in Manaus, Amazonas-Brazil. The TST and QFT were performed and the tests results were analyzed in relation to the personal characteristics of the children studied and their relationship with the index case.
Results
The rates of positivity were 34.8% (TST) and 26.7% (QFT), with 14.1% of indeterminations by the QFT. Concordance between tests was fair (Kappa = 0.35 P<0.001). Both the TST and QFT were associated with the intensity of exposure (Linear OR = 1.286, P = 0.005; Linear OR = 1.161, P = 0.035 respectively) with only the TST being associated with the time of exposure (Linear OR = 1.149, P = 0.009). The presence of intestinal helminths in the TST+ group was associated with negative QFT results (OR = 0.064, P = 0.049). In the TST− group lower levels of ferritin were associated with QFT+ results (Linear OR = 0.956, P = 0.036).
Conclusions
Concordance between the TST and QFT was lower than expected. The factors associated with the discordant results were intestinal helminths, ferritin levels and exposure time to the index tuberculosis case. In TST+ group, helminths were associated with negative QFT results suggesting impaired cell-mediated immunity. The TST−&QFT+ group had a shorter exposure time and lower ferritin levels, suggesting that QFT is faster and ferritin may be a potential biomarker of early stages of tuberculosis infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097992
PMCID: PMC4039466  PMID: 24879374
11.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096564
PMCID: PMC4018294  PMID: 24819060
12.  Determining Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection among BCG-Immunised Ugandan Children by T-SPOT.TB and Tuberculin Skin Testing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47340.
Background
Children with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) represent a huge reservoir for future disease. We wished to determine Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection prevalence among BCG-immunised five-year-old children in Entebbe, Uganda, but there are limited data on the performance of immunoassays for diagnosis of tuberculosis infection in children in endemic settings. We therefore evaluated agreement between a commercial interferon gamma release assay (T-SPOT.TB) and the tuberculin skin test (TST; 2 units RT-23 tuberculin; positive defined as diameter ≥10 mm), along with the reproducibility of T-SPOT.TB on short-term follow-up, in this population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We recruited 907 children of which 56 were household contacts of TB patients. They were tested with T-SPOT.TB at age five years and then re-examined with T-SPOT.TB (n = 405) and TST (n = 319) approximately three weeks later. The principal outcome measures were T-SPOT.TB and TST positivity. At five years, 88 (9.7%) children tested positive by T-SPOT.TB. More than half of those that were T-SPOT.TB positive at five years were negative at follow-up, whereas 96% of baseline negatives were consistently negative. We observed somewhat better agreement between initial and follow-up T-SPOT.TB results among household TB contacts (κ = 0.77) than among non-contacts (κ = 0.39). Agreement between T-SPOT.TB and TST was weak (κ = 0.28 and κ = 0.40 for T-SPOT.TB at 5 years and follow-up, respectively). Of 28 children who were positive on both T-SPOT.TB tests, 14 (50%) had a negative TST. Analysis of spot counts showed high levels of instability in responses between baseline and follow-up, indicating variability in circulating numbers of T cells specific for certain M.tb antigens.
Conclusions/Significance
We found that T-SPOT.TB positives are unstable over a three-week follow-up interval, and that TST compares poorly with T-SPOT.TB, making the categorisation of children as TB-infected or TB-uninfected difficult. Existing tools for the diagnosis of TB infection are unsatisfactory in determining infection among children in this setting.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047340
PMCID: PMC3471887  PMID: 23077594
13.  Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses during Acute M. tuberculosis Infection in Adult Household Contacts in Kampala, Uganda 
Contacts of active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients are at risk for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection. Because most infections are controlled, studies during MTB infection provide insight into protective immunity. We compared immune responses of adult household contacts that did and did not convert the tuberculin skin test (TST). Innate and adaptive immune responses were measured by whole blood assay. Responses of TST converters (TSTC) were compared with persistently TST negative contacts (PTST–) and contacts who were TST+ at baseline (TST+). TLR-2, TLR-4, and IFN-γR responses to IFN-γ did not differ between the groups, nor did γδ T cell responses. T cell responses to MTB antigens differed markedly among TSTC, PTST–, and TST+ contacts. Thus, no differences in innate responses were found among the three household contact groups. However, adaptive T cell responses to MTB antigens did differ before and during MTB infection among PTST–, TSTC, and TST+ contacts.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0553
PMCID: PMC3403758  PMID: 22492155
14.  Comparing Interferon-Gamma Release Assays to Tuberculin Skin Test in Thai Children with Tuberculosis Exposure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105003.
Background
Data on the performance of interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs), QuantiFERON TB Gold In-tube (QFNGIT) and T-Spot.TB, in diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) are limited in Southeast Asia. This study aims to compare the performances of the two IGRAs and TST in Thai children with recent TB exposure.
Methods
This multicenter, prospective study enrolled children with recent exposure to active TB adults. Children were investigated for active TB. TST was performed and blood collected for T-Spot.TB and QFNGIT.
Results
158 children were enrolled (87% TB-exposed and 13% active TB, mean age 7.2 years). Only 3 children had HIV infection. 66.7% had TST≥10 mm, while 38.6% had TST≥15 mm. 32.5% had positive QFNGIT; 29.9% had positive T-Spot.TB. QFNGIT and T-Spot.TB positivity was higher among children with active TB compared with TB-exposed children. No indeterminate IGRA results were detected. No statistically significant differences between the performances of the IGRAs and TST at the two cut-offs with increasing TB exposure were detected. Concordance for positive IGRAs and TST ranged from 42–46% for TST≥10 mm and 62–67% for TST≥15 mm. On multivariable analyses, exposure to household primary/secondary caregiver with TB was associated with positive QFNGIT. Higher TB contact score and active TB were associated with positive T-Spot.TB.
Conclusions
Both QFNGIT and T-Spot.TB performed well in our Thai pediatric study population. No differences in the performances between tests with increasing TB exposure were found. Due to accessibility and low cost, using TST may more ideal than IGRAs in diagnosing latent and active TB in healthy children in Thailand and other similar settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105003
PMCID: PMC4133381  PMID: 25121513
15.  The Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) Is Affected by Recent BCG Vaccination but Not by Exposure to Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) during Early Life 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12287.
The tuberculin skin test (TST) is widely used in TB clinics to aid Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) diagnosis, but the definition and the significance of a positive test in very young children is still unclear. This study compared the TST in Gambian children at 4½ months of age who either received BCG vaccination at birth (Group 1) or were BCG naïve (Group 2) in order to examine the role of BCG vaccination and/or exposure to environmental mycobacteria in TST reactivity at this age. Nearly half of the BCG vaccinated children had a positive TST (≥5 mm) whereas all the BCG naïve children were non-reactive, confirming that recent BCG vaccination affects TST reactivity. The BCG naïve children demonstrated in vitro PPD responses in peripheral blood in the absence of TST reactivity, supporting exposure to and priming by environmental mycobacterial antigens. Group 2 were then vaccinated at 4½ months of age and a repeat TST was performed at 20–28 months of age. Positive reactivity (≥5 mm) was evident in 11.1% and 12.5% infants from Group 1 and Group 2 respectively suggesting that the timing of BCG vaccination had little effect by this age. We further assessed for immune correlates in peripheral blood at 4½ months of age. Mycobacterial specific IFNγ responses were greater in TST responders than in non-responders, although the size of induration did not correlate with IFNγ. However the IFNγ: IL-10 ratio positively correlated with TST induration suggesting that the relationship between PPD induced IFNγ and IL-10 in the peripheral blood may be important in controlling TST reactivity. Collectively these data provide further insights into how the TST is regulated in early life, and how a positive response might be interpreted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012287
PMCID: PMC2924396  PMID: 20808814
16.  Ascaris co-infection does not alter malaria-induced anaemia in a cohort of Nigerian preschool children 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:1.
Background
Co-infection with malaria and intestinal parasites such as Ascaris lumbricoides is common. Malaria parasites induce a pro-inflammatory immune response that contributes to the pathogenic sequelae, such as malarial anaemia, that occur in malaria infection. Ascaris is known to create an anti-inflammatory immune environment which could, in theory, counteract the anti-malarial inflammatory immune response, minimizing the severity of malarial anaemia. This study examined whether Ascaris co-infection can minimize the severity of malarial anaemia.
Methods
Data from a randomized controlled trial on the effect of antihelminthic treatment in Nigerian preschool-aged (6–59 months) children conducted in 2006–2007 were analysed to examine the effect of malaria and Ascaris co-infection on anaemia severity. Children were enrolled and tested for malaria, helminths and anaemia at baseline, four, and eight months. Six hundred and ninety subjects were analysed in this study. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess the relationship between infection status and Ascaris and Plasmodium parasite intensity on severity of anaemia, defined as a haemoglobin less than 11 g/dL.
Results
Malaria prevalence ranged from 35-78% over the course of this study. Of the malaria-infected children, 55% were co-infected with Ascaris at baseline, 60% were co-infected four months later and 48% were co-infected eight months later, underlining the persistent prevalence of malaria-nematode co-infections in this population. Over the course of the study the percentage of anaemic subjects in the population ranged between 84% at baseline and 77% at the eight-month time point. The odds of being anaemic were four to five times higher in children infected with malaria compared to those without malaria. Ascaris infection alone did not increase the odds of being anaemic, indicating that malaria was the main cause of anaemia in this population. There was no significant difference in the severity of anaemia between children singly infected with malaria and co-infected with malaria and Ascaris.
Conclusion
In this cohort of Nigerian preschool children, malaria infection was the major contributor to anaemia status. Ascaris co-infection neither exacerbated nor ameliorated the severity of malarial anaemia.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-1
PMCID: PMC3544581  PMID: 23282136
17.  Regional, Household and Individual Factors that Influence Soil Transmitted Helminth Reinfection Dynamics in Preschool Children from Rural Indigenous Panamá 
Background
Few studies have investigated the relative influence of individual susceptibility versus household exposure factors versus regional clustering of infection on soil transmitted helminth (STH) transmission. The present study examined reinfection dynamics and spatial clustering of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm in an extremely impoverished indigenous setting in rural Panamá over a 16 month period that included two treatment and reinfection cycles in preschool children.
Methodology/Principle Findings
Spatial cluster analyses were used to identify high prevalence clusters for each nematode. Multivariate models were then used (1) to identify factors that differentiated households within and outside the cluster, and (2) to examine the relative contribution of regional (presence in a high prevalence cluster), household (household density, asset-based household wealth, household crowding, maternal education) and individual (age, sex, pre-treatment eggs per gram (epg) feces, height-for-age, latrine use) factors on preschool child reinfection epgs for each STH. High prevalence spatial clusters were detected for Trichuris and hookworm but not for Ascaris. These clusters were characterized by low household density and low household wealth indices (HWI). Reinfection epg of both hookworm and Ascaris was positively associated with pre-treatment epg and was higher in stunted children. Additional individual (latrine use) as well as household variables (HWI, maternal education) entered the reinfection models for Ascaris but not for hookworm.
Conclusions/Significance
Even within the context of extreme poverty in this remote rural setting, the distinct transmission patterns for hookworm, Trichuris and Ascaris highlight the need for multi-pronged intervention strategies. In addition to poverty reduction, improved sanitation and attention to chronic malnutrition will be key to reducing Ascaris and hookworm transmission.
Author Summary
Control of soil transmitted helminth (STH) infections is of central importance to improving preschool child health because these infections can have long lasting consequences on growth and development. Our study in indigenous Ngäbe preschool children in western Panama was conducted over a period of 16 months. We monitored reinfection dynamics of three STH infections (Ascaris, Trichuris and hookworm) over two reinfection cycles to gain an understanding of regional, household and individual factors that influenced transmission of these infections among preschool children. Despite the rural setting, where virtually all households live under conditions of extreme poverty, we identified spatial clusters of high prevalence of Trichuris and hookworm in the most remote and poorest area, whereas Ascaris was present throughout the study area. Preschool children who were chronically malnourished (low height-for-age) had a higher reinfection burden of Ascaris and hookworm. Household poverty (low relative household wealth and maternal education) and infrequent latrine use were also influential in Ascaris reinfection. This cross-disciplinary analysis of preschool child STH transmission in a poor rural setting provides pertinent information for STH control programs that aim to break the cycle of poverty and infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002070
PMCID: PMC3578751  PMID: 23437411
18.  The presence of a booster phenomenon among contacts of active pulmonary tuberculosis cases: a retrospective cohort 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:38.
Background
Assuming a higher risk of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection in the population of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in October of 1998 the TB Control Program of Clementino Fraga Filho Hospital (CFFH) routinely started to recommend a two-step tuberculin skin test (TST) in contacts of pulmonary TB cases in order to distinguish a boosting reaction due to a recall of delayed hypersensitivity previously established by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) or BCG vaccination from a tuberculin conversion. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of boosted tuberculin skin tests among contacts of individuals with active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).
Methods
Retrospective cohort of TB contacts ≥ 12 years old who were evaluated between October 1st, 1998 and October 31st 2001. Contacts with an initial TST ≤ 4 mm were considered negative and had a second TST applied after 7–14 days. Boosting reaction was defined as a second TST ≥ 10 mm with an increase in induration ≥ 6 mm related to the first TST. All contacts with either a positive initial or repeat TST had a chest x-ray to rule out active TB disease, and initially positive contacts were offered isoniazid preventive therapy. Contacts that boosted did not receive treatment for latent TB infection and were followed for 24 months to monitor the development of TB. Statistical analysis of dichotomous variables was performed using Chi-square test. Differences were considered significant at a p < 0.05.
Results
Fifty four percent (572/1060) of contacts had an initial negative TST and 79% of them (455/572) had a second TST. Boosting was identified in 6% (28/455). The mean age of contacts with a boosting reaction was 42.3 ± 21.1 and with no boosting was 28.7 ± 21.7 (p = 0.01). Fifty percent (14/28) of individuals whose test boosted met criteria for TST conversion on the second TST (increase in induration ≥ 10 mm). None of the 28 contacts whose reaction boosted developed TB disease within two years following the TST.
Conclusion
The low number of contacts with boosting and the difficulty in distinguishing boosting from TST conversion in the second TST suggests that the strategy of two-step TST testing among contacts of active TB cases may not be useful. However, this conclusion must be taken with caution because of the small number of subjects followed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-38
PMCID: PMC1839086  PMID: 17371600
19.  Agreement between QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube and the tuberculin skin test and predictors of positive test results in Warao Amerindian pediatric tuberculosis contacts 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:383.
Background
Interferon-gamma release assays have emerged as a more specific alternative to the tuberculin skin test (TST) for detection of tuberculosis (TB) infection, especially in Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccinated people. We determined the prevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection by TST and QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) and assessed agreement between the two test methods and factors associated with positivity in either test in Warao Amerindian children in Venezuela. Furthermore, progression to active TB disease was evaluated for up to 12 months.
Methods
163 HIV-negative childhood household contacts under 16 years of age were enrolled for TST, QFT-GIT and chest X-ray (CXR). Follow-up was performed at six and 12 months. Factors associated with TST and QFT-GIT positivity were studied using generalized estimation equations logistic regression models.
Results
At baseline, the proportion of TST positive children was similar to the proportion of children with a positive QFT-GIT (47% vs. 42%, p = 0.12). Overall concordance between QFT-GIT and TST was substantial (kappa 0.76, 95% CI 0.46-1.06). Previous BCG vaccination was not associated with significantly increased positivity in either test (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.32-1.5 for TST and OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.14-1.9 for QFT-GIT). Eleven children were diagnosed with active TB at baseline. QFT-GIT had a higher sensitivity for active TB (88%, 95% CI 47-98%) than TST (55%, 95% CI 24-83%) while specificities were similar (respectively 58% and 55%). Five initially asymptomatic childhood contacts progressed to active TB disease during follow-up.
Conclusion
Replacement of TST by the QFT-GIT for detection of M. tuberculosis infection is not recommended in this resource-constrained setting as test results showed substantial concordance and TST positivity was not affected by previous BCG vaccination. The QFT-GIT had a higher sensitivity than the TST for the detection of TB disease. However, the value of the QFT-GIT as an adjunct in diagnosing TB disease is limited by a high variability in QFT-GIT results over time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-383
PMCID: PMC4227090  PMID: 25012075
Tuberculosis; Indigenous children; Diagnostics; Child tuberculosis contacts
20.  Tuberculosis skin testing, anergy and protein malnutrition in Peru 
SUMMARY
SETTING
Malnutrition and intestinal parasites cause immunosuppression. This may cause false-negative tuberculin skin tests (TST) and failure to identify tuberculosis (TB) infection.
OBJECTIVE
To assess factors associated with TST positivity and anergy in disadvantaged communities in Peru.
DESIGN
A study of 212 randomly selected adults: 102 in a rural Amazonian village and 110 shanty town residents in urban Lima.
RESULTS
Respectively 52% and 53% of urban and rural jungle populations were TST-positive. Using simultaneous tetanus and candida skin tests, 99% had at least one positive skin test. Generalised anergy was therefore rare, despite frequent intestinal parasitic infection, including 34% helminth infection prevalence in the jungle. TST positivity was associated with age (P = 0.001), known TB contact (P = 0.02) and poor household ventilation (P = 0.007). TST positivity was not significantly associated with crowding, reported past TB, single/multiple BCG vaccination, income, intestinal parasites, dietary factors, body mass index or body fat. Individuals with lower anthropometric body protein, as measured by corrected arm muscle area, were less likely to be TST-positive (P = 0.02), implying that protein malnutrition caused tuberculin-specific anergy.
CONCLUSION
These results identify the importance of household ventilation for community TB transmission and add to the evidence that protein malnutrition suppresses TB immunity, causing false-negative TST results.
PMCID: PMC2912519  PMID: 16161252
tuberculosis; anergy; protein malnutrition; anthropometry; TST
21.  Virologic and immunologic outcome of HAART in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-1 infected patients with and without tuberculosis (TB) and latent TB infection (LTBI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Background
HIV/TB coinfection remains a major challenge even after the initiation of HAART. Little is known about Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) specific immune restoration in relation to immunologic and virologic outcomes after long-term HAART during co-infections with latent and active TB.
Methods
A total of 232 adults, including 59 HIV patients with clinical TB (HIV + TB+), 125 HIV patients without clinical TB (HIV + TB-), 13 HIV negative active TB patients (HIV-TB+), and 10 HIV negative Tuberculin Skin TST positive (HIV-TST+), and 25 HIV-TST- individuals were recruited. HAART was initiated in 113 HIV + patients (28 TB + and 85 TB-), and anti-TB treatment for all TB cases. CD4+ T-cell count, HIV RNA load, and IFN-γ responses to ESAT-6/CFP-10 were measured at baseline, 6 months (M6), 18 months (M18) and 24 months (M24) after HAART initiation.
Results
The majority of HIV + TB- (70%, 81%, 84%) as well as HIV + TB + patients (60%, 77%, 80%) had virologic success (HIV RNA < 50 copies/ml) by M6, M18 and M24, respectively. HAART also significantly increased CD4+ T-cell counts at 2 years in HIV + TB + (from 110.3 to 289.9 cells/μl), HIV + TB- patients (197.8 to 332.3 cells/μl), HIV + TST- (199 to 347 cells/μl) and HIV + TST + individuals (195 to 319 cells/μl). Overall, there was no significant difference in the percentage of patients that achieved virologic success and in total CD4+ counts increased between HIV patients with and without TB or LTBI. The Mtb specific IFN-γ response at baseline was significantly lower in HIV + TB + (3.6 pg/ml) compared to HIV-TB + patients (34.4 pg/ml) and HIV + TST + (46.3 pg/ml) individuals; and in HIV-TB + patients compared to HIV-TST + individuals (491.2 pg/ml). By M18 on HAART, the IFN-γ response remained impaired in HIV + TB + patients (18.1 pg/ml) while it normalized in HIV + TST + individuals (from 46.3 to 414.2 pg/ml).
Conclusions
Our data show that clinical and latent TB infections do not influence virologic and immunologic outcomes of ART in HIV patients. Despite this, HAART was unable to restore optimal TB responsiveness as measured by Mtb specific IFN-γ response in HIV/TB patients. Improvement of Mtb-specific immune restoration should be the focus of future therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-10-18
PMCID: PMC3718701  PMID: 23842109
HIV; Tuberculosis; HAART
22.  Genome Scan of M. tuberculosis Infection and Disease in Ugandans 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4094.
Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is an enduring public health problem globally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Several studies have suggested a role for host genetic susceptibility in increased risk for TB but results across studies have been equivocal. As part of a household contact study of Mtb infection and disease in Kampala, Uganda, we have taken a unique approach to the study of genetic susceptibility to TB, by studying three phenotypes. First, we analyzed culture confirmed TB disease compared to latent Mtb infection (LTBI) or lack of Mtb infection. Second, we analyzed resistance to Mtb infection in the face of continuous exposure, defined by a persistently negative tuberculin skin test (PTST-); this outcome was contrasted to LTBI. Third, we analyzed an intermediate phenotype, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) expression in response to soluble Mtb ligands enriched with molecules secreted from Mtb (culture filtrate). We conducted a full microsatellite genome scan, using genotypes generated by the Center for Medical Genetics at Marshfield. Multipoint model-free linkage analysis was conducted using an extension of the Haseman-Elston regression model that includes half sibling pairs, and HIV status was included as a covariate in the model. The analysis included 803 individuals from 193 pedigrees, comprising 258 full sibling pairs and 175 half sibling pairs. Suggestive linkage (p<10−3) was observed on chromosomes 2q21-2q24 and 5p13-5q22 for PTST-, and on chromosome 7p22-7p21 for TB; these findings for PTST- are novel and the chromosome 7 region contains the IL6 gene. In addition, we replicated recent linkage findings on chromosome 20q13 for TB (p = 0.002). We also observed linkage at the nominal α = 0.05 threshold to a number of promising candidate genes, SLC11A1 (PTST- p = 0.02), IL-1 complex (TB p = 0.01), IL12BR2 (TNFα p = 0.006), IL12A (TB p = 0.02) and IFNGR2 (TNFα p = 0.002). These results confirm not only that genetic factors influence the interaction between humans and Mtb but more importantly that they differ according to the outcome of that interaction: exposure but no infection, infection without progression to disease, or progression of infection to disease. Many of the genetic factors for each of these stages are part of the innate immune system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004094
PMCID: PMC2605555  PMID: 19116662
23.  Tuberculosis contact investigation with a new, specific blood test in a low-incidence population containing a high proportion of BCG-vaccinated persons 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):77.
Background
BCG-vaccination can confound tuberculin skin test (TST) reactions in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection.
Methods
We compared the TST with a Mycobacterium tuberculosis specific whole blood interferon-gamma assay (QuantiFERON®-TB-Gold In Tube; QFT-G) during ongoing investigations among close contacts of sputum smear positive source cases in Hamburg, Germany.
Results
During a 6-month period, 309 contacts (mean age 28.5 ± 10.5 years) from a total of 15 source cases underwent both TST and QFT-G testing. Of those, 157 (50.8%) had received BCG vaccination and 84 (27.2%) had migrated to Germany from a total of 25 different high prevalence countries (i.e. >20 cases/100,000). For the TST, the positive response rate was 44.3% (137/309), whilst only 31 (10%) showed a positive QFT-G result. The overall agreement between the TST and the QFT-G was low (κ = 0.2, with 95% CI 0.14.-0.23), and positive TST reactions were closely associated with prior BCG vaccination (OR 24.7; 95% CI 11.7–52.5). In contrast, there was good agreement between TST and QFT-G in non-vaccinated persons (κ = 0.58, with 95% CI 0.4–0.68), increasing to 0.68 (95% CI 0.46–0.81), if a 10-mm cut off for the TST was used instead of the standard 5 mm recommended in Germany.
Conclusion
The QFT-G assay was unaffected by BCG vaccination status, unlike the TST. In close contacts who were BCG-vaccinated, the QFT-G assay appeared to be a more specific indicator of latent tuberculosis infection than the TST, and similarly sensitive in unvaccinated contacts. In BCG-vaccinated close contacts, measurement of IFN-gamma responses of lymphocytes stimulated with M. tuberculosis-specific antigen should be recommended as a basis for the decision on whether to perform subsequent chest X-ray examinations or to start treatment for latent tuberculosis infection.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-77
PMCID: PMC1481586  PMID: 16707012
24.  Expression of TNF-Alpha-Dependent Apoptosis-Related Genes in the Peripheral Blood of Malagasy Subjects with Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61154.
The majority of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infections remain asymptomatic with only up to 10% progressing to clinical tuberculosis. However, the constituents of the effective “protective immunity” against tuberculosis responsible for containing most infections remain unknown. Evaluating gene transcriptional profiles in tuberculosis clinical cohorts is one approach to understanding the spectrum of tuberculosis progression. It is clear that apoptosis plays a role in the control of tuberculosis but the utility of apoptosis-related genes as surrogate markers of protection against tuberculosis has not been well investigated. To characterize potential surrogate markers that could discriminate different phases of the clinical tuberculosis spectrum, we investigated gene expression of several TNF-alpha dependent apoptotic genes (TNFR1, TNFR2, FLICE, FLIPs) by real-time RT-PCR of peripheral blood cells from cohorts of individuals with active tuberculosis or potential exposure to tuberculosis.
Newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients (n = 23), their close household contacts (n = 80), and community controls (n = 46) were tested at intervals over a period of up to two years. Latent infection or previous Mtb contact was assessed by ELISPOT and TST and complete blood counts were performed during the follow up.
Results showed significant upregulation of FLIPs expression by infected individuals regardless of clinical status at entry to the study. A higher percentage of lymphocytes was found in the infected household contacts that remained healthy. In contrast, in individuals with active TB, a significant upregulation of TNFR2 expression, a significantly higher percentage of monocytes and a significantly decreased lymphocyte count were seen, compared to subjects that remained healthy. Moreover, the household contacts who subsequently developed signs of TB also had a significantly high number of monocytes.
These data suggest tuberculosis may be associated with decreased T-cell survival (perhaps due to apoptosis) while inhibition of apoptosis in monocytes could lead to a relative increase in these cells: a situation predicted to favour Mtb.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061154
PMCID: PMC3625145  PMID: 23593415
25.  Comparison of Xpert MTB/RIF with Other Nucleic Acid Technologies for Diagnosing Pulmonary Tuberculosis in a High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Prospective Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001061.
In this prospective, real-world cohort study nested within a national screening program for tuberculosis, Lesley Scott and colleagues compare the performance of Xpert MTB/RIF on a single sputum sample with different TB sputum detection technologies.
Background
The Xpert MTB/RIF (Cepheid) non-laboratory-based molecular assay has potential to improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB), especially in HIV-infected populations, through increased sensitivity, reduced turnaround time (2 h), and immediate identification of rifampicin (RIF) resistance. In a prospective clinical validation study we compared the performance of Xpert MTB/RIF, MTBDRplus (Hain Lifescience), LightCycler Mycobacterium Detection (LCTB) (Roche), with acid fast bacilli (AFB) smear microscopy and liquid culture on a single sputum specimen.
Methods and Findings
Consecutive adults with suspected TB attending a primary health care clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa, were prospectively enrolled and evaluated for TB according to the guidelines of the National TB Control Programme, including assessment for smear-negative TB by chest X-ray, clinical evaluation, and HIV testing. A single sputum sample underwent routine decontamination, AFB smear microscopy, liquid culture, and phenotypic drug susceptibility testing. Residual sample was batched for molecular testing. For the 311 participants, the HIV prevalence was 70% (n = 215), with 120 (38.5%) culture-positive TB cases. Compared to liquid culture, the sensitivities of all the test methodologies, determined with a limited and potentially underpowered sample size (n = 177), were 59% (47%–71%) for smear microscopy, 76% (64%–85%) for MTBDRplus, 76% (64%–85%) for LCTB, and 86% (76%–93%) for Xpert MTB/RIF, with specificities all >97%. Among HIV+ individuals, the sensitivity of the Xpert MTB/RIF test was 84% (69%–93%), while the other molecular tests had sensitivities reduced by 6%. TB detection among smear-negative, culture-positive samples was 28% (5/18) for MTBDRplus, 22% (4/18) for LCTB, and 61% (11/18) for Xpert MTB/RIF. A few (n = 5) RIF-resistant cases were detected using the phenotypic drug susceptibility testing methodology. Xpert MTB/RIF detected four of these five cases (fifth case not tested) and two additional phenotypically sensitive cases.
Conclusions
The Xpert MTB/RIF test has superior performance for rapid diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis over existing AFB smear microscopy and other molecular methodologies in an HIV- and TB-endemic region. Its place in the clinical diagnostic algorithm in national health programs needs exploration.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Tuberculosis (TB)—a contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs—is a global public health problem. In 2009, 9.4 million people developed TB, and 1.7 million people died from the disease; a quarter of these deaths were in HIV-positive individuals. People who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are particularly susceptible to TB because of their weakened immune system. Consequently, TB is a leading cause of illness and death among people living with HIV. TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its characteristic symptoms are a persistent cough, night sweats, and weight loss. Diagnostic tests for TB include sputum smear analysis (the microscopic examination of mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing for the presence of M. tuberculosis) and mycobacterial liquid culture (in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum samples and test its drug sensitivity). TB can usually be cured by taking several powerful drugs daily for at least six months.
Why Was This Study Done?
Mycobacterial culture is a sensitive but slow way to diagnose TB. To halt the disease's spread, it is essential that TB—particularly TB that is resistant to several treatment drugs (multidrug-resistant, or MDR, TB)—is diagnosed quickly. Recently, several nucleic acid amplification technology (NAAT) tests have been developed that rapidly detect M. tuberculosis DNA in patient samples and look for DNA changes that make M. tuberculosis drug-resistant. In December 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed Xpert MTB/RIF—an automated DNA test that detects M. tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance (an indicator of MDR TB) within two hours—for the investigation of patients who might have TB, especially in regions where MDR TB and HIV infection are common. TB diagnosis in HIV-positive people can be difficult because they are more likely to have smear-negative TB than HIV-negative individuals. In this prospective study, the researchers compare the performance of Xpert MTB/RIF on a single sputum sample with that of smear microscopy, liquid culture, and two other NAAT tests (MTBDRplus and LightCycler Mycobacterium Detection) in adults who might have TB in Johannesburg (South Africa), a region where many adults are HIV-positive.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers evaluated adults with potential TB attending a primary health care clinic for TB according to national guidelines and determined their HIV status. A sputum sample from 311 participants underwent smear microscopy, liquid culture, and drug susceptibility testing; 177 samples were also tested for TB using NAAT tests. They found that 70% of the participants were HIV-positive and 38.5% had culture-positive TB. Compared to liquid culture, smear microscopy, MTBDRplus, LightCycler Mycobacterium Detection, and Xpert MTB/RIF had sensitivities of 59%, 76%, 76%, and 86%, respectively. That is, assuming that liquid culture detected everyone with TB, Xpert MTB/RIF detected 86% of the cases. The specificity of all the tests compared to liquid culture was greater than 97%. That is, they all had a low false-positive rate. Among people who were HIV-positive, the sensitivity of Xpert MTB/RIF was 84%; the sensitivities of the other NAAT tests were 70%. Moreover, Xpert MTB/RIF detected TB in 61% of smear-negative, culture-positive samples, whereas the other NAATs detected TB in only about a quarter of these samples. Finally, although some TB cases were identified as drug-resistant by one test but drug-sensitive by another, the small number of drug-resistant cases means no firm conclusions can be made about the accuracy of drug resistance determination by the various tests.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings are likely to be affected by the study's small size, they suggest that Xpert MTB/RIF may provide a more accurate rapid diagnosis of TB than smear microscopy and other currently available NAAT tests in regions where HIV and TB are endemic (i.e., always present). Indeed, the reported accuracy of Xpert MTB/RIF for TB diagnosis—85% sensitivity and 97% specificity—has the potential to save more than 400,000 lives per year. Taken together with the results of other recent studies (including an accompanying article by Lawn et al. that investigates the use of Xpert MTB/RIF for screening for HIV-associated TB and rifampicin resistance), these findings support the WHO recommendation that Xpert MTB/RIF, rather than smear microscopy, should be the initial test in HIV-infected individuals who might have TB.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001061.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Carlton Evans; a related PLoS Medicine Research Article by Lawn et al. is also available
WHO provides information (in several languages) on all aspects of tuberculosis, including general information on tuberculosis diagnostics and specific information on the Xpert MTB/RIF test; further information about WHO's endorsement of Xpert MTB/RIF is included in a recent Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Tuberculosis report
WHO also provides information about tuberculosis and HIV
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has detailed information on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about tuberculosis, including information on the diagnosis of and on tuberculosis and HIV co-infection
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV-related tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001061
PMCID: PMC3144192  PMID: 21814495

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