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1.  Identification of latent tuberculosis infection in rheumatic patients under consideration for treatment with anti-TNF-α agents 
Immunosuppressive therapy with anti-tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) agents in rheumatic patients modulates the immune system and may increase the risk of reactivating infections that are normally maintained in a latent state, such as tuberculosis. The purpose of this study was to analyse the value of QuantiFERON TB Gold In-Tube (QFT IT) and tuberculin skin test (TST) in BCG vaccinated patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis who were qualified to receive TNF-α blockers.
Material and methods
Ninety patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis were included in the study. The control group consisted of 20 healthy participants. Chest X-ray, TST and QFT IT were carried out in all persons.
In rheumatic patients positive results of QFT IT and TST tests were identified in 15 cases (16.7%) whereas negative results of both tests were detected in 56 cases (62.2%). In the group of examined patients, 11 (12.2%) had QFT IT-/TST+ test results. In patients with QFT IT+/TST– status one active tuberculosis case was detected. In the control group QFT IT positive results were found in 4 cases (20%) and TST positive in 11 cases (55%). Treatment with TNF-α blockers was introduced in 26 rheumatology patients with the following test status: 3 with QFT IT+/TST+; 20 with QFT IT-/TST-; 3 with QFT IT-/TST+.
In the BCG vaccinated population the QFT IT assay may potentially improve the identification and selection for therapy for latent TB infection before treatment with anti-TNF agents.
PMCID: PMC3598128  PMID: 23515560
QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube; tuberculin skin test; rheumatoid arthritis; latent tuberculosis; anti-TNF-α therapy
2.  Prevalence of Latent Tuberculosis Infection among Health Care Workers in South Korea: A Multicenter Study 
We investigated the prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among the health care workers (HCWs) and analyzed its risk factors in South Korea.
A standard questionnaire regarding the baseline demographics and risk factors for LTBI was given to each participant and tuberculin skin test (TST), QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In-Tube (QFT-GIT) assay, and chest radiography were performed.
A total of 493 participants, 152 (30.8%) doctors and 341 (69.2%) nurses were enrolled in eight tertiary referral hospitals. The mean age of the subjects was 30.6 years old, and 383 (77.7%) were female. Of the 152 doctors, 63 (41.4%) and 36 (23.7%) were positive by TST and by QTF-GIT, respectively, and among the 341 nurses, 119 (34.9%) and 49 (14.4%) had positive TST and QFT-GIT results, respectively. Overall, the agreement between the two tests was 0.22 by the chance corrected proportional agreement rate (kappa coefficient) in 493 subjects. Experience of working in tuberculosis (TB)-related departments was significantly associated with positive LTBI test results by QFT-GIT assay, not by TST. In multivariate analysis, only age was independently associated with increased risk of a positive TST result, while age and experience of working in TB-related departments (odds ratio, 2.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-5.12) were independently associated with increased risk of a positive QFT-GIT result.
A high prevalence of LTBI was found among South Korean HCWs. Considering the association between the experience of working in TB-related departments and high risk of LTBI, QFT-GIT may be a better diagnostic test for LTBI than TST in HCWs.
PMCID: PMC3741469  PMID: 23946754
Latent Tuberculosis; Health Personnel; Tuberculin Test; Interferon-gamma Release Tests; Republic of Korea
3.  Added Value of QuantiFERON TB-Gold in-Tube for Detecting Latent Tuberculosis Infection among Persons Living with HIV/AIDS 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:294963.
Objective. To evaluate the added value of QuantiFERON TB-Gold in-Tube (QTF-GIT) over the tuberculin skin testing (TST) for detecting latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI) among patients with AIDS in a city with a low TB incidence rate (11.1/100,000 inhabitants) and universal BCG coverage. Methods. Three hundred consecutive patients with AIDS in eight outpatient sexually transmitted disease public clinics in Brasilia were submitted to QFT-IT and TST between May 2011 and March 2013. A positive result of either test was considered to be LTBI. Results. Median CD4-cell count was 477.5 cells/mm3; 295 (98.3%) were using antiretroviral therapy. Eighteen patients (6%, 95% CI: 3.6%–9.3%) had LTBI, of whom 4 (1.3%, 95% CI: 0.04%–2.63%) had only a positive TST, 8 (2.7%, 95% CI: 0.8%–4.5%) had only a QFT-GIT positive test, and 6 (2%, 95% CI: 0.4%–3.6%) had positive results for both tests. This represents an 81.8% relative increase in LTBI detection when QFT-GIT is added to TST. The concordance between both tests was 96% (k = 0.48). Conclusions. The QFT-GIT alone was more effective to detect LTBI than TST alone and had an 81% added value as an add-on sequential test in this population with mild immunosuppression. The cost-effectiveness of these strategies remains to be evaluated.
PMCID: PMC4058839  PMID: 24991546
4.  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
5.  Screening for latent tuberculosis in Norwegian health care workers: high frequency of discordant tuberculin skin test positive and interferon-gamma release assay negative results 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:353.
Tuberculosis (TB) presents globally a significant health problem and health care workers (HCW) are at increased risk of contracting TB infection. There is no diagnostic gold standard for latent TB infection (LTBI), but both blood based interferon-gamma release assays (IGRA) and the tuberculin skin test (TST) are used. According to the national guidelines, HCW who have been exposed for TB should be screened and offered preventive anti-TB chemotherapy, but the role of IGRA in HCW screening is still unclear.
A total of 387 HCW working in clinical and laboratory departments in three major hospitals in the Western region of Norway with possible exposure to TB were included in a cross-sectional study. The HCW were asked for risk factors for TB and tested with TST and the QuantiFERON®TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT). A logistic regression model analyzed the associations between risk factors for TB and positive QFT or TST.
A total of 13 (3.4%) demonstrated a persistent positive QFT, whereas 214 (55.3%) had a positive TST (≥ 6 mm) and 53 (13.7%) a TST ≥ 15 mm. Only ten (4.7%) of the HCW with a positive TST were QFT positive. Origin from a TB-endemic country was the only risk factor associated with a positive QFT (OR 14.13, 95% CI 1.37 - 145.38, p = 0.026), whereas there was no significant association between risk factors for TB and TST ≥ 15 mm. The five HCW with an initial positive QFT that retested negative all had low interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) responses below 0.70 IU/ml when first tested.
We demonstrate a low prevalence of LTBI in HCW working in hospitals with TB patients in our region. The “IGRA-only” seems like a desirable screening strategy despite its limitations in serial testing, due to the high numbers of discordant TST positive/IGRA negative results in HCW, probably caused by BCG vaccination or boosting due to repetitive TST testing. Thus, guidelines for TB screening in HCW should be updated in order to secure accurate diagnosis of LTBI and offer proper treatment and follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3637593  PMID: 23590619
Tuberculosis; Quantiferon; Interferon-gamma release assay; IGRA; Screening; Health care workers; Low-endemic country, Norway
6.  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
7.  Value of the tuberculin skin testing and of an interferon-gamma release assay in haemodialysis patients after exposure to M. tuberculosis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:195.
Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection pose a high risk of developing active TB disease. It is therefore important to detect latent TB infection (LTBI) to be able to offer treatment and prevent progression to TB disease. We assessed the value of the tuberculin skin test (TST) and of an interferon-gamma release assay (Quantiferon®-TB Gold in-Tube, QFT) for diagnosing LTBI in ESRD patients, after prolonged exposure to a highly contagious TB case in a haemodialysis unit. As a high number of patients presented erythema without induration in the TST response, this type of reaction was also analysed.
The TST and QFT were simultaneously performed twelve weeks after the last possible exposure to a bacilliferous TB patient. If the first TST (TST-1) was negative, a second TST (TST-2) was performed 15 days later to detect a booster response. A comparison was made between the TST responses (including those cases with erythema without induration) and those for the QFT. The correlation with risk of infection and the concordance between tests were both analysed.
A total of 52 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Overall, 11 patients (21.2%) had a positive TST response: 3 for TST-1 and 8 for TST-2, and 18 patients (34.6%) showed a positive QFT response (p = 0.065). Erythema without induration was found in 3 patients at TST-1 and in a further 9 patients at TST-2. The three patients with erythema without induration in TST-1 had a positive TST-2 response. Concordance between TST and QFT was weak for TST-1 (κ = 0.21); it was moderate for overall TST (κ = 0.49); and it was strong if both induration and erythema (κ = 0.67) were considered.
In patients with ESRD, erythema without induration in the TST response could potentially be an indicator of M. tuberculosis infection. The QFT shows better accuracy for LTBI diagnosis than the TST.
PMCID: PMC3447656  PMID: 22905901
8.  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
9.  Evaluation of Interferon-Gamma Release Assays in the Diagnosis of Recent Tuberculosis Infection in Health Care Workers 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6686.
Health care workers (HCWs) are a group at risk of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). The aims of this study were to determine IFN-γ response by QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In Tube (QFN-G-IT) and T-SPOT.TB in HCWs, comparing the results with tuberculin skin test (TST); and to analyze the capacity of IFN-γ tests to detect recent versus remote LTBI with a prolonged stimulation test (PST).
Methodology/Principal Findings
A total of 147 HCWs were enrolled; 23 of whom were BCG vaccinated. 95 HCWs (64.6%) had a previous positive TST and were not retested; and 52 HCWs had a previous negative TST or were tested for the first time. When we analysed individuals without previous positive TST, the number of positive results for T-SPOT.TB was 12/52 (23.1%); and for QFN-G-IT, 9/52 (17.3%). The global concordance (κ) between T-SPOT.TB and QFN-G-IT with TST was 0.754 and 0.929 respectively. Of individuals with previous positive TST, T-SPOT.TB and QFN-G-IT were negative in 51.6% (49/95) and 62.1% (59/95) respectively, decreasing the concordance to 0.321 and 0.288, respectively. In non-BCG vaccinated HCWs with previous positive TST a positive IFN-γ test was associated with degree of exposure and diameter of TST. PST was performed in 24 HCW with previous positive TST and negative IFN-γ tests. PST was developed in 3 cell cultures stimulated with medium alone, ESAT-6 and CFP-10, respectively. In the third and sixth day of incubation period, part of the supernatants were replaced with complete medium supplemented with (rIL)-2. On day 9, ELISPOT assay was performed. In 14 samples PST was not valid due to not having enough cells. In 8 cases, the response was negative, and in 2 cases positive, suggesting that these patients were infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in some point in the past.
Both IFN-γ tests showed a similar number of positive results, and concordance between the tests was excellent. None of the tests was affected by prior BCG vaccination. IFN-γ tests are a useful tool for detecting recent infection in HCW population.
PMCID: PMC2726945  PMID: 19701460
10.  Deceleration during 'real life' motor vehicle collisions – a sensitive predictor for the risk of sustaining a cervical spine injury? 
The predictive value of trauma impact for the severity of whiplash injuries has mainly been investigated in sled- and crash-test studies. However, very little data exist for real-life accidents. Therefore, the predictive value of the trauma impact as assessed by the change in velocity of the car due to the collision (ΔV) for the resulting cervical spine injuries were investigated in 57 cases after real-life car accidents.
ΔV was determined for every car and clinical findings related to the cervical spine were assessed and classified according to the Quebec Task Force (QTF).
In our study, 32 (56%) subjects did not complain about symptoms and were therefore classified as QTF grade 0; 25 (44%) patients complained of neck pain: 8 (14%) were classified as QTF grade I, 6 (10%) as QTF grade II, and 11 (19%) as QTF grade IV. Only a slight correlation (r = 0.55) was found between the reported pain and ΔV. No relevant correlation was found between ΔV and the neck disability index (r = 0.46) and between ΔV and the QTF grade (r = 0.45) for any of the collision types. There was no ΔV threshold associated with acceptable sensitivity and specificity for the prognosis of a cervical spine injury.
The results of this study indicate that ΔV is not a conclusive predictor for cervical spine injury in real-life motor vehicle accidents. This is of importance for surgeons involved in medicolegal expertise jobs as well as patients who suffer from whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) after motor vehicle accidents.
Trial registration
The study complied with applicable German law and with the principles of the Helsinki Declaration and was approved by the institutional ethics commission.
PMCID: PMC2657117  PMID: 19267940
11.  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.
BCG-vaccination can confound tuberculin skin test (TST) reactions in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC1481586  PMID: 16707012
12.  Discrepancy between Mycobacterium tuberculosis-Specific Gamma Interferon Release Assays Using Short and Prolonged In Vitro Incubation▿  
The sensitivities of various gamma interferon release assays (IGRAs) for the detection of past latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection are not known. In this study, we aimed to assess the effects of various IGRA formats and in vitro incubation periods on test outcome. The results of the tuberculin skin test (TST) were compared with those of the QuantiFERON-TB Gold in-tube (QFT-GIT) test, an overnight enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT), and a 6-day lymphocyte stimulation test (LST) by using the same M. tuberculosis-specific peptides and samples from 27 TST-positive persons with a history of exposure to M. tuberculosis, 4 patients cured of tuberculosis (TB), and 9 TST-negative controls. Among the TST-positive persons, the LST was more frequently positive (92%; P < 0.01) than either the QFT-GIT test (33%) or ELISPOT (46%). While good agreement was observed between the QFT-GIT test and ELISPOT (κ = 0.71) and between TST and LST (κ = 0.78), the agreement between TST or LST, on the one hand, and the QFT-GIT test or ELISPOT, on the other, was poor. These data indicate that the QFT-GIT test and overnight ELISPOT are less sensitive for the detection of past latent TB than the 6-day LST. The observed discrepancies between these IGRAs are most likely related to differences in incubation periods. Whether TST-positive persons with positive LST results but negative QFT-GIT and ELISPOT results are at risk for the development of TB needs to be elucidated before short-incubation IGRAs can be used for the screening of individuals for latent TB before immunosuppressive treatment.
PMCID: PMC1951056  PMID: 17507543
13.  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
14.  Systematic Review: T-Cell–based Assays for the Diagnosis of Latent Tuberculosis Infection: An Update 
Annals of internal medicine  2008;149(3):177-184.
Interferon-γ–release assays (IGRAs) are alternatives to the tuberculin skin test (TST). A recent meta-analysis showed that IGRAs have high specificity, even among populations that have received bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination. Sensitivity was suboptimal for TST and IGRAs.
To incorporate newly reported evidence from 20 studies into an updated meta-analysis on the sensitivity and specificity of IGRAs.
Data Sources
PubMed was searched through 31 March 2008, and citations of all original articles, guidelines, and reviews for studies published in English were reviewed.
Study Selection
Studies that evaluated QuantiFERON-TB Gold, QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (both from Cellestis, Victoria, Australia), and T-SPOT.TB (Oxford Immunotec, Oxford, United Kingdom) or its precommercial ELISpot version, when data on the commercial version were lacking. For assessing sensitivity, the study sample had to have microbiologically confirmed active tuberculosis. For assessing specificity, the sample had to comprise healthy, low-risk individuals without known exposure to tuberculosis. Studies with fewer than 10 participants and those that included only immunocompromised participants were excluded.
Data Extraction
One reviewer abstracted data on participant characteristics, test characteristics, and test performance from 38 studies; these data were double-checked by a second reviewer. The original investigators were contacted for additional information when necessary.
Data Synthesis
A fixed-effects meta-analysis with correction for overdispersion was done to pool data within prespecified subgroups. The pooled sensitivity was 78% (95% CI, 73% to 82%) for QuantiFERON-TB Gold, 70% (CI, 63% to 78%) for QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube, and 90% (CI, 86% to 93%) for T-SPOT.TB. The pooled specificity for both QuantiFERON tests was 99% among non–BCG-vaccinated participants (CI, 98% to 100%) and 96% (CI, 94% to 98%) among BCG-vaccinated participants. The pooled specificity of T-SPOT.TB (including its precommercial ELISpot version) was 93% (CI, 86% to 100%). Tuberculin skin test results were heterogeneous, but specificity in non–BCG-vaccinated participants was consistently high (97% [CI, 95% to 99%]).
Most studies were small and had limitations, including no gold standard for diagnosing latent tuberculosis and variable TST methods and cutoff values. Data on the specificity of the commercial T-SPOT.TB assay were limited.
The IGRAs, especially QuantiFERON-TB Gold and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube, have excellent specificity that is unaffected by BCG vaccination. Tuberculin skin test specificity is high in non–BCG-vaccinated populations but low and variable in BCG-vaccinated populations. Sensitivity of IGRAs and TST is not consistent across tests and populations, but T-SPOT.TB appears to be more sensitive than both QuantiFERON tests and TST.
PMCID: PMC2951987  PMID: 18593687 CAMSID: cams235
15.  A Case of Peritoneal Tuberculosis Developed after Infliximab Therapy for Refractory RA 
Recently, interferon gamma releasing assay has been recommended to compensate the tuberculin skin test (TST) for screening for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Although it improved the detection of LTBI before treatment with tumor necrosis factor blocker, its application to immune suppressed patients is limited. We report a case of peritoneal tuberculosis (TB) developed in a patient who tested positive for TST and QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-G) before infliximab therapy, to emphasize the importance of monitoring during treatment. A 52-year-old woman presented with abdominal distension. She had been diagnosed with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis six years ago. She had started taking infliximab six months ago. All screening tests for TB were performed and the results of all were negative. At admission, the results of repeated TST and QFT-G tests were positive. Histopathological examination confirmed peritoneal TB. The patient started anti-TB therapy and the symptoms were relieved.
PMCID: PMC3492425  PMID: 23166560
Peritonitis, Tuberculous; Infliximab
16.  Performance of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test and Tuberculin Skin Test for diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection in BCG vaccinated health care workers 
Tuberculin skin test (TST) has been used for years as an aid in diagnosing latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) but it suffers from a number of well-documented performance and logistic problems. Quantiferon-TB Gold In Tube test (QFT-GIT) has been reported to have better sensitivity and specifity than TST. In this study, it was aimed to compare the performance of a commercial IFN-γ release assay (QFT-GIT) with TST in the diagnosis of HCWs at risk for latent TB infection in BCG vaccinated population.
Hundred healthy volunteer health care workers were enrolled. All were subjected to TST and QFT-GIT. Results were compared among Health Care Workers (HCWs) groups in terms of profession, workplace, working duration.
TST is affected by previous BCG vaccinations and number of cases with QFT-GIT positivity is increased in accordance with the TST induration diameter range. QFT-GIT result was negative in 17 of 32 TST positive (≥15 mm) cases and positive in 4 of 61 cases whose TST diameters are between 6–14 mm, that is attritutable to previous BCG vaccination(s). It was negative in all cases with TST diameters between 0–5 mm.
HCWs with positive QFT-GIT results were significantly older than the ones with negative results. Furthermore duration of work was significantly longer in QFT-GIT positive than in negative HCWs.
There was a moderate concordance between QFT-GIT and TST, when TST result was defined as positive with a ≥15 mm diameter of induration. We suggest that QFT-GIT can be used as an alternative to TST for detection of LTBI, especially in groups with high risk of LTBI and in population with routine BCG vaccination program.
PMCID: PMC3976198  PMID: 24681806
Skin Tests; Quantiferon-TB Gold In-Tube; Latent Tuberculosis; Tuberculin Test
17.  The effect of introducing IGRA to screen French healthcare workers for tuberculosis and potential conclusions for the work organisation 
In France, pre-employment screening for tuberculosis (TB) is performed for healthcare workers (HCW). Screening is repeated when exposure to TB patients or infectious material occurs. The results of these TB screenings were analysed in a retrospective analysis.
Tuberculin skin tests (TST) and interferon-gamma release assays (QuantiFERON® Gold In-Tube – QFT) were used to perform the TB screenings. The screening results of 637 HCWs on whom QFT was performed were taken from the records of the University Hospital of Nantes.
In three (0.5%) HCW, the QFT was indeterminate. In 22.2%, the QFT was positive. A second QFT was performed in 118 HCWs. The reversion rate was 42% (5 out of 17). The conversion rate was 6% (6 out of 98). A TST was performed on 466 (73.5%) of the HCWs. Results for TST > 10 mm were 77.4%. In those with a TST < 10 mm, QFT was positive in 14% and in those with a TST ≥ 10 mm, QFT was positive in 26.7%. Depending on the definition for conversion in the QFT, the annual attack rate was 4.1% or 7.3%. X-ray and pneumology consultation was based on positive QFT rather than TST alone (52 out of 56). No active TB was detected.
The TST overestimated the prevalence of LTBI in this cohort. The decision about X-ray and consultation regarding preventive treatment should be based on the QFT rather than the TST results. The high reversion rate should be taken into consideration when consulting with HCWs regarding preventive treatment. The high conversion rate seems to indicate that preventive measures such as wearing masks should be improved.
PMCID: PMC3651707  PMID: 23647777
Tuberculosis; Healthcare workers; Interferon-gamma release assay
18.  Cost-Effectiveness of Quantiferon®-TB Gold-In-Tube Versus Tuberculin Skin Testing for Contact Screening and Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59546.
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is a reservoir for new TB cases. Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) reduces the risk of active TB by as much as 90%, but LTBI screening has limitations. Unlike tuberculin skin testing (TST), interferon-gamma release assays are not affected by BCG vaccination, and have been reported to be cost-effective in low-burden countries. The goal of this study was to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis from the health system perspective, comparing three strategies for LTBI diagnosis in TB contacts: tuberculin skin testing (TST), QuantiFERON®-TB Gold-in-Tube (QFT-GIT) and TST confirmed by QFT-GIT if positive (TST/QFT-GIT) in Brazil, a middle-income, high-burden country with universal BCG coverage.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Costs for LTBI diagnosis and treatment of a hypothetical cohort of 1,000 adult immunocompetent close contacts were considered. The effectiveness measure employed was the number of averted TB cases in two years. Health system costs were US$ 105,096 for TST, US$ 121,054 for QFT-GIT and US$ 101,948 for TST/QFT-GIT; these strategies averted 6.56, 6.63 and 4.59 TB cases, respectively. The most cost-effective strategy was TST (US$ 16,021/averted case). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was US$ 227,977/averted TB case for QFT-GIT. TST/QFT-GIT was dominated.
Unlike previous studies, TST was the most cost-effective strategy for averting new TB cases in the short term. QFT-GIT would be more cost-effective if its costs could be reduced to US$ 26.95, considering a TST specificity of 59% and US$ 18 considering a more realistic TST specificity of 80%. Nevertheless, with TST, 207.4 additional people per 1,000 will be prescribed IPT compared with QFT.
PMCID: PMC3617186  PMID: 23593145
19.  Serial Testing of Health Care Workers for Tuberculosis Using Interferon-γ Assay 
Rationale: Although interferon-γ (IFN-γ) assays are promising alternatives to the tuberculin skin test (TST), their serial testing performance is unknown.
Objective: To compare TST and IFN-γ conversions and reversions in healthcare workers.
Methods: We prospectively followed-up 216 medical and nursing students in India who underwent baseline and repeat testing (after 18 mo) with TST and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT). TST conversions were defined as reactions greater than or equal to 10 mm, with increments of 6 or 10 mm over baseline. QFT conversions were defined as baseline IFN-γ less than 0.35 and follow-up IFN-γ greater than or equal to 0.35 or 0.70 IU/ml. QFT reversions were defined as baseline IFN-γ greater than or equal to 0.35 and follow-up IFN-γ less than 0.35 IU/ml.
Results: Of the 216 participants, 48 (22%) were TST-positive, and 38 (18%) were QFT-positive at baseline. Among 147 participants with concordant baseline negative results, TST conversions occurred in 14 (9.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.3–15.5) using the 6 mm increment definition, and 6 (4.1%; 95% CI = 1.5–8.7) using the 10 mm increment definition. QFT conversions occurred in 17/147 participants (11.6%; 95% CI = 6.9–17.9) using the definition of IFN-γ greater than or equal to 0.35 IU/ml, and 11/147 participants (7.5%; 95% CI = 3.8–13.0) using IFN-γ greater than or equal to 0.70 IU/ml. Agreement between TST (10 mm increment) and QFT conversions (⩾ 0.70 IU/ml) was 96% (κ = 0.70). QFT reversions occurred in 2/28 participants (7%) with baseline concordant positive results, as compared with 7/10 participants (70%) with baseline discordant results (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: IFN-γ assay shows promise for serial testing, but repeat results need to be interpreted carefully. To meaningfully interpret serial results, the optimal thresholds to distinguish new infections from nonspecific variations must be determined.
PMCID: PMC2648116  PMID: 16690977
health care workers; interferon-γ assay; serial testing; tuberculin skin test; tuberculosis
20.  Accuracy of Immunodiagnostic Tests for Active Tuberculosis Using Single and Combined Results: A Multicenter TBNET-Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3417.
The clinical application of IFN-γ release assays (IGRAs) has recently improved the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection. In a multicenter study of the Tuberculosis Network European Trialsgroup (TBNET) we aimed to ascertain in routine clinical practice the accuracy of a novel assay using selected peptides encoded in the mycobacterial genomic region of difference (RD) 1 for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis in comparison with tuberculin skin test (TST), QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In-Tube (Cellestis Ltd., Carnegie, Australia) and T-SPOT.TB (Oxfordimmunotec, Abingdon, UK).
Principal Findings
425 individuals from 6 different European centres were prospectively enrolled. We found that sensitivity of the novel test, TST, QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In-Tube and T-SPOT.TB was respectively 73.1%, 85.3%, 78.1%, and 85.2%; specificity was respectively 70.6%, 48.0%, 61.9% and 44.3%; positive likelihood ratios were respectively 2.48, 1.64, 2.05, and 1.53; negative likelihood ratios were respectively 0.38, 0.31, 0.35, 0.33. Sensitivity of TST combined with the novel test, QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In-Tube and T-SPOT.TB increased up to 92.4%, 97.7% and 97.1%, respectively. The likelihood ratios of combined negative results of TST with, respectively, the novel test, QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In-Tube and T-SPOT.TB were 0.19, 0.07 and 0.10.
The assay based on RD1 selected peptides has similar accuracy for active tuberculosis compared with TST and commercial IGRAs. Then, independently of the spectrum of antigens used in the assays to elicit mycobacterial specific immune responses, the novel test, IGRAs, and the TST do not allow an accurate identification of active tuberculosis in clinical practice. However, the combined use of the novel assay or commercial IGRAs with TST may allow exclusion of tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC2561073  PMID: 18923709
21.  Pregnancy Differentially Impacts Performance of Latent Tuberculosis Diagnostics in a High-Burden Setting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92308.
Targeted screening for latent TB infection (LTBI) in vulnerable populations is a recommended TB control strategy. Pregnant women are at high risk for developing TB and likely to access healthcare, making pregnancy an important screening opportunity in developing countries. The sensitivity of the widely-used tuberculin skin test (TST), however, may be reduced during pregnancy.
We performed a cross-sectional study comparing the TST with the QuantiFERON Gold In-tube (QGIT) in 401 HIV-negative women presenting antepartum (n = 154), at delivery (n = 148), or postpartum (n = 99) to a government hospital in Pune, India. A subset of 60 women enrolled during pregnancy was followed longitudinally and received both tests at all three stages of pregnancy.
The QGIT returned significantly more positive results than the TST. Of the 401 women in the cross-sectional study, 150 (37%) had a positive QGIT, compared to 59 (14%) for the TST (p<0.005). Forty-nine (12%) did not have their TST read. Of 356 who had both results available, 46 (13%) were concordant positive, 91 (25%) were discordant (12 (3%) TST+/QGIT-; 79 (22%) TST−/QGIT+), and 206 (57%) concordant negative. Comparison by stage of pregnancy revealed that QGIT percent positivity remained stable between antepartum and delivery, unlike TST results (QGIT 31–32% vs TST 11–17%). Median IFN-γ concentration was lower at delivery than in antepartum or postpartum (1.66 vs 2.65 vs 8.99 IU/mL, p = 0.001). During postpartum, both tests had significantly increased positives (QGIT 31% vs 32% vs 52%, p = 0.01; TST 17% vs 11% vs 25%, p<0.005). The same trends were observed in the longitudinal subset.
Timing and choice of LTBI test during pregnancy impact results. QGIT was more stable and more closely approximated the LTBI prevalence in India. But pregnancy stage clearly affects both tests, raising important questions about how the complex immune changes brought on by pregnancy may impact LTBI screening.
PMCID: PMC3962385  PMID: 24658103
22.  Poor agreement between QuantiFERON-TB Gold test and tuberculin skin test results for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection in rheumatoid arthritis patients and healthy controls 
We investigated the agreement between the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-Gold) test and the tuberculin skin test (TST) in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), compared with healthy controls, in Korea.
We recruited 64 patients with RA and 79 healthy controls at two university hospitals in South Korea. The participants underwent both the QFT-Gold test and the TST simultaneously between August 2006 and February 2009. All patients were diagnosed using the classification criteria for RA revised in 1987 by the American College of Rheumatology. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccination status and current medications were evaluated, and disease activities were assessed using the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints. Eleven patients with RA produced indeterminate QFT-Gold test results and were thus excluded from the kappa analysis.
Based on an induration of 10 mm in diameter as the TST cutoff value, the QFT-Gold test and TST demonstrated 75.0% agreement (κ = 0.23) in patients with RA and 75.9% agreement (κ = 0.19) in healthy controls. Among the 56 patients with RA who had negative TST results, 11 patients (17.2%) also yielded indeterminate QFT-Gold results.
Our study showed poor agreement between the results of the QFT-Gold test and the TST in both RA patients and healthy controls. Based on these findings, we emphasize the importance of making clinical decisions in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis in Koreans with or without RA.
PMCID: PMC3932398  PMID: 24574836
QuantiFERON-TB Gold test; Tuberculin skin test; Latent tuberculosis; Arthritis, rheumatoid
23.  IFN-γ response on T-cell based assays in HIV-infected patients for detection of tuberculosis infection 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:348.
Individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have an increased risk of progression to active tuberculosis following Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. The objective of the study was to determine IFN-γ responses for the detection of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) with QuantiFERON-TB GOLD In Tube (QFT-G-IT) and T-SPOT.TB in HIV patients, and evaluate the influence of CD4 cell count on tests performance.
We studied 75 HIV patients enrolled for ongoing studies of LTBI with T-SPOT.TB, QFN-G-IT and TST. Mean CD4 cell counts ± standard deviation was 461.29 ± 307.49 cells/μl. Eight patients had a BCG scar.
T-SPOT.TB, QFN-G-IT and TST were positive in 7 (9.3%), 5 (6.7%) and 9 (12%) cases, respectively. Global agreement between QFN-G-IT and T-SPOT.TB was 89% (κ = 0.275). The overall agreement of T-SPOT.TB and QFN-G-IT with TST was 80.8% (κ = 0.019) and 89% (κ = 0.373), respectively. We have found negative IFN-γ assays results among 2 BCG-vaccinated HIV-infected individuals with a positive TST. In non BCG-vaccinated patients, QFN-G-IT and TST were positive in 5 cases (7.5%) and T-SPOT.TB in 7 (10.4%). In contrast, in BCG-vaccinated patients, only TST was positive in 4/8 (50%) of the cases. The differences obtained in the number of positive results between TST and both IFN-γ assays in BCG vaccinated patients were significant (95% CI 3-97%, p = 0.046), however, the confidence interval is very wide given the small number of patients. In patients with CD4< 200, we obtained only one (5%) positive result with T-SPOT.TB; however, QFN-G-IT and TST were negative in all cases. On the contrary, percentages of positive results in patients with CD4> 200 were 10.9% (6/55), 9.1% (5/55) and 16.4% (9/55) with T-SPOT.TB, QFN-G-IT and TST, respectively.
IFN-γ tests have the benefit over TST that are less influenced by BCG vaccination, consequently they are more specific than TST. Although our number of patients with advance immunosuppression is limited, our study suggests that IFN-γ assays are influenced with level of immunosuppression. The use of IFN-γ assays could be a helpful method for diagnosing LTBI in HIV population.
PMCID: PMC3016378  PMID: 21143955
24.  Performance of the tuberculin skin test and interferon-γ release assay for detection of tuberculosis infection in immunocompromised patients in a BCG-vaccinated population 
Interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) may improve diagnostic accuracy for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). This study compared the performance of the tuberculin skin test (TST) with that of IGRA for the diagnosis of LTBI in immunocompromised patients in an intermediate TB burden country where BCG vaccination is mandatory.
We conducted a retrospective observational study of patients given the TST and an IGRA, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-IT), at Severance Hospital, a tertiary hospital in South Korea, from December 2006 to May 2009.
Of 211 patients who underwent TST and QFT-IT testing, 117 (55%) were classified as immunocompromised. Significantly fewer immunocompromised than immunocompetent patients had positive TST results (10.3% vs. 27.7%, p 0.001), whereas the percentage of positive QFT-IT results was comparable for both groups (21.4% vs. 25.5%). However, indeterminate QFT-IT results were more frequent in immunocompromised than immunocompetent patients (21.4% vs. 9.6%, p 0.021). Agreement between the TST and QFT-IT was fair for the immunocompromised group (κ = 0.38), but moderate agreement was observed for the immunocompetent group (κ = 0.57). Indeterminate QFT-IT results were associated with anaemia, lymphocytopenia, hypoproteinemia, and hypoalbuminemia.
In immunocompromised patients, the QFT-IT may be more sensitive than the TST for detection of LTBI, but it resulted in a considerable proportion of indeterminate results. Therefore, both tests may maximise the efficacy of screening for LTBI in immunocompromised patients.
PMCID: PMC2801508  PMID: 20003535
25.  Diagnosis of Active Tuberculosis in China Using an In-House Gamma Interferon Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay▿  
Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assays have been proven to be useful in the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Nevertheless, their specificity and sensitivity vary among the different populations studied. Here, we evaluate the value of an in-house IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay in the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB) in Shenzhen, China, where the prevalence of tuberculosis is severe and Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination is mandatory at birth. A total of 305 patients with active tuberculosis, 18 patients with nontuberculosis lung diseases, and 202 healthy controls were recruited in this study. Among them, 156 individuals were simultaneously tested for IFN-γ responses by the commercial QuantiFERON-TB Gold in-tube (QFT-IT) assay. Tuberculin skin tests (TST) were performed with 202 healthy controls. The overall sensitivities of the ELISPOT and QFT-IT assays for active tuberculosis were 83.60% and 80.85%, respectively; the specificities were 76.6% and 73.26%, respectively. The IFN-γ ELISPOT responses, but not those of the TST, were significantly correlated with TB exposure (r = −0.6040, P < 0.0001). The sensitivities of the ELISPOT assay varied for patients with different forms of tuberculosis, with the highest sensitivity for patients with sputum-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (89.89%) and the lowest for those with tuberculous meningitis (62.5%). In conclusion, the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay is a useful adjunct to current tests for diagnosis of active TB in China. The ELISPOT assay is more accurate than TST in identifying TB infections.
PMCID: PMC2691059  PMID: 19339489

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