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1.  Commercial Serological Tests for the Diagnosis of Active Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(8):e1001062.
An up-to-date systematic review and meta-analysis by Karen Steingart and colleagues confirms that commercially available serological tests do not provide an accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis.
Background
Serological (antibody detection) tests for tuberculosis (TB) are widely used in developing countries. As part of a World Health Organization policy process, we performed an updated systematic review to assess the diagnostic accuracy of commercial serological tests for pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB with a focus on the relevance of these tests in low- and middle-income countries.
Methods and Findings
We used methods recommended by the Cochrane Collaboration and GRADE approach for rating quality of evidence. In a previous review, we searched multiple databases for papers published from 1 January 1990 to 30 May 2006, and in this update, we add additional papers published from that period until 29 June 2010. We prespecified subgroups to address heterogeneity and summarized test performance using bivariate random effects meta-analysis. For pulmonary TB, we included 67 studies (48% from low- and middle-income countries) with 5,147 participants. For all tests, estimates were variable for sensitivity (0% to 100%) and specificity (31% to 100%). For anda-TB IgG, the only test with enough studies for meta-analysis, pooled sensitivity was 76% (95% CI 63%–87%) in smear-positive (seven studies) and 59% (95% CI 10%–96%) in smear-negative (four studies) patients; pooled specificities were 92% (95% CI 74%–98%) and 91% (95% CI 79%–96%), respectively. Compared with ELISA (pooled sensitivity 60% [95% CI 6%–65%]; pooled specificity 98% [95% CI 96%–99%]), immunochromatographic tests yielded lower pooled sensitivity (53%, 95% CI 42%–64%) and comparable pooled specificity (98%, 95% CI 94%–99%). For extrapulmonary TB, we included 25 studies (40% from low- and middle-income countries) with 1,809 participants. For all tests, estimates were variable for sensitivity (0% to 100%) and specificity (59% to 100%). Overall, quality of evidence was graded very low for studies of pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB.
Conclusions
Despite expansion of the literature since 2006, commercial serological tests continue to produce inconsistent and imprecise estimates of sensitivity and specificity. Quality of evidence remains very low. These data informed a recently published World Health Organization policy statement against serological tests.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year nearly 10 million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection—and about two million people die from the disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. It usually infects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis) but can also infect the lymph nodes, bones, and other tissues (extrapulmonary tuberculosis). The characteristic symptoms of tuberculosis are a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for the disease include microscopic examination of sputum (mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing) for M. tuberculosis bacilli, chest radiography, mycobacterial culture (in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum or tissue samples), and nucleic acid amplification tests (which detect the bacterium's genome in patient samples). Tuberculosis can usually be cured by taking several powerful drugs daily or several times a week for at least six months.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although efforts to control tuberculosis have advanced over the past decade, missed tuberculosis diagnoses and mismanaged tuberculosis continue to fuel the global epidemic. A missed diagnosis may lead to more severe illness and death, especially for people infected with both tuberculosis and HIV. Also, a missed diagnosis means that an untreated individual with pulmonary tuberculosis may remain infectious for longer, continuing to spread tuberculosis within the community Missed diagnoses are a particular problem in resource-limited countries where sputum microscopy and chest radiography often perform poorly and other diagnostic tests are too expensive and complex for routine use. Serological tests, which detect antibodies against M. tuberculosis in the blood (antibodies are proteins made by the immune system in response to infections), might provide a way to diagnose tuberculosis in resource-limited countries. Indeed, many serological tests for tuberculosis diagnosis are on sale in developing countries. However, because of doubts about the accuracy of these commercial tests, they are not recommended for use in routine practice. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers assess the diagnostic accuracy of commercial serological tests for pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies that evaluated serological tests for active tuberculosis published between 1990 and 2010. They used data from these studies to calculate each test's sensitivity (the proportion of patients with a positive serological test among patients with tuberculosis confirmed by a reference method; a high sensitivity indicates that the test detects most patients with tuberculosis) and specificity (the proportion of patients with a negative serological result among people without tuberculosis; a high specificity means the test gives few false-positive diagnoses). They also assessed the methodological quality of each study and rated the overall quality of the evidence. The researchers found 67 studies (half from low/middle-income countries) that evaluated serological tests for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. The sensitivity of these tests varied between studies, ranging from 0% to 100%; their specificities ranged from 31% to 100%. For the anda-TB IgG test—the only test with sufficient studies for a meta-analysis—the pooled sensitivity from the relevant studies was 76% in smear-positive patients and 59% in smear-negative patients. The pooled specificities were 92% and 91%, respectively. The researchers found 25 studies (40% from low/middle-income countries) that evaluated serological tests for the diagnosis of extrapulmonary tuberculosis. Again, sensitivities and specificities for each test varied greatly between studies, ranging from 0% to 100% and 59% to 100%, respectively. Overall, for both pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis, the quality of evidence from the studies of the serological tests was graded very low.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This systematic review, which updates an analysis published in 2007, indicates that commercial serological tests do not provide an accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis. This finding confirms previous systematic reviews of the evidence, despite a recent expansion in the relevant literature. Moreover, the researchers' analysis indicates that the overall quality of the body of evidence on these tests remains poor. Many of the identified studies used unsatisfactory patient selection methods, for example. Clearly, there is a need for continued and improved research on existing serological tests and for research into new approaches to the serological diagnosis of tuberculosis. For now, though, based on these findings, cost-effectiveness data, and expert opinion, the World Health Organization has issued a recommendation against the use of currently available serological tests for the diagnosis of tuberculosis, while stressing the importance of continued research on these and other tests that could provide quick and accurate diagnosis of TB.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001062.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis diagnostics on the Stop TB Partnership (some information is in several languages); the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Tuberculosis recommendations on tuberculosis diagnosis are available
The Web site Evidence-Based Tuberculosis Diagnosis (from Stop TB Partnership's New Diagnostics Working Group) provides access to several resources on TB diagnostics, including systematic reviews, guidelines, and training materials
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001062
PMCID: PMC3153457  PMID: 21857806
2.  The Infectiousness of Tuberculosis Patients Coinfected with HIV 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(9):e188.
Background
The current understanding of airborne tuberculosis (TB) transmission is based on classic 1950s studies in which guinea pigs were exposed to air from a tuberculosis ward. Recently we recreated this model in Lima, Perú, and in this paper we report the use of molecular fingerprinting to investigate patient infectiousness in the current era of HIV infection and multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB.
Methods and Findings
All air from a mechanically ventilated negative-pressure HIV-TB ward was exhausted over guinea pigs housed in an airborne transmission study facility on the roof. Animals had monthly tuberculin skin tests, and positive reactors were removed for autopsy and organ culture for M. tuberculosis. Temporal exposure patterns, drug susceptibility testing, and DNA fingerprinting of patient and animal TB strains defined infectious TB patients. Relative patient infectiousness was calculated using the Wells-Riley model of airborne infection. Over 505 study days there were 118 ward admissions of 97 HIV-positive pulmonary TB patients. Of 292 exposed guinea pigs, 144 had evidence of TB disease; a further 30 were tuberculin skin test positive only. There was marked variability in patient infectiousness; only 8.5% of 118 ward admissions by TB patients were shown by DNA fingerprinting to have caused 98% of the 125 characterised cases of secondary animal TB. 90% of TB transmission occurred from inadequately treated MDR TB patients. Three highly infectious MDR TB patients produced 226, 52, and 40 airborne infectious units (quanta) per hour.
Conclusions
A small number of inadequately treated MDR TB patients coinfected with HIV were responsible for almost all TB transmission, and some patients were highly infectious. This result highlights the importance of rapid TB drug-susceptibility testing to allow prompt initiation of effective treatment, and environmental control measures to reduce ongoing TB transmission in crowded health care settings. TB infection control must be prioritized in order to prevent health care facilities from disseminating the drug-resistant TB that they are attempting to treat.
Using a guinea pig detection system above an HIV-tuberculosis ward, Rod Escombe and colleagues found that most transmitted tuberculosis originated from patients with inadequately treated multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, more than nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection usually of the lungs—and nearly two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Most people infected with M. tuberculosis never become ill—their immune system contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant within the body and can cause tuberculosis years later if host immunity declines. The symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for the disease include chest X-rays, the tuberculin skin test, and sputum cultures (in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing). Tuberculosis can usually be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics daily for several months.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists performed definitive experiments on airborne tuberculosis transmission in the 1950s by exposing guinea pigs to the air from a tuberculosis ward. They found that a minority of patients actually transmit tuberculosis, that the infectiousness of transmitters varies greatly, and that effective antibiotic treatment decreases infectiousness. Since the 1950s, however, multidrug-resistant (MDR) and more recently extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains of M. tuberculosis have become widespread. Treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis is much more difficult than normal tuberculosis, requiring even more antibiotics, and for long periods, up to 2 years and beyond. In addition, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) has emerged. HIV weakens the immune system so HIV-positive people are much more likely to develop active tuberculosis (and to die from the disease, which also speeds the development of HIV/AIDS) than people with a healthy immune system. Have these changes altered tuberculosis transmission between people? The answer to this question might help to optimize the control of tuberculosis infection, particularly in hospitals. In this study, the researchers investigate current patterns of tuberculosis infectiousness among HIV-positive patients by recreating the 1950s guinea pig model for tuberculosis transmission in a hospital in Lima, Perú.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers passed all the air from an HIV–tuberculosis ward over guinea pigs housed in an animal facility on the hospital's roof. The guinea pigs were tested monthly with tuberculin skin tests, and tissues from positive animals were examined for infection with M. tuberculosis. Sputum was also collected daily from the patients on the ward. The researchers then used the timing of patient admissions and guinea pig infections, together with the drug susceptibility patterns and DNA fingerprints of the M. tuberculosis strains isolated from the animals and the patients, to identify which patients had infected which guinea pigs. Finally, they used a mathematical equation to calculate the relative infectiousness of each patient in airborne infectious units (“quanta”) per hour. During the 505 study days, although 97 HIV-positive patients with tuberculosis were admitted to the ward, just ten patients were responsible for virtually all the characterized cases of tuberculosis among the guinea pigs. Six of these patients had MDR tuberculosis that had been suboptimally treated. The average patient infectiousness over the entire study period was 8.2 quanta per hour—six times greater than the average infectiousness recorded in the 1950s. Finally, the three most infectious patients (all of whom had suboptimally treated MDR tuberculosis) produced 226, 52, and 40 quanta per hour.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that a few inadequately treated HIV-positive patients with MDR tuberculosis caused nearly all the tuberculosis transmission to guinea pigs during this study. They also show for the first time that tuberculosis infectiousness among HIV-positive patients is very variable. The increase in the average patient infectiousness in this study compared to that seen in the 1950s hints at the possibility that HIV infection might increase tuberculosis infectiousness. However, studies that directly compare the tuberculosis infectiousness of HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients are needed to test this possibility. More importantly, this study demonstrates the potentially high infectiousness of inadequately treated MDR TB patients and their importance in ongoing TB transmission. These findings suggest that rapid, routine testing of antibiotic susceptibility should improve tuberculosis control by ensuring that patients with MDR TB are identified and treated effectively and quickly. Finally, they re-emphasize the importance of implementing environmental control measures (for example, adequate natural or mechanical ventilation of tuberculosis wards, or crowded waiting rooms or emergency departments where tuberculosis patients may be found) to prevent airborne tuberculosis transmission in health-care facilities, particularly in areas where many patients are HIV positive and/or where MDR tuberculosis is common.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050188.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistance tuberculosis, and on tuberculosis and HIV
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several fact sheets and other information resources about all aspects of tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization's 2008 report on global tuberculosis control—surveillance, planning, financing provides a snapshot of the current state of the global tuberculosis epidemic and links to information about all aspects of tuberculosis and its control (in several languages)
HIVInsite provides detailed information about coinfection with HIV and tuberculosis
• Avert, an international AIDS charity, also provides information about the interaction between HIV and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis Infection-Control in the Era of Expanding HIV Care and Treatment is a report from the World Health Organization
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050188
PMCID: PMC2535657  PMID: 18798687
3.  Cytological and Transcript Analyses Reveal Fat and Lazy Persister-Like Bacilli in Tuberculous Sputum 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e75.
Background
Tuberculous sputum provides a sample of bacilli that must be eliminated by chemotherapy and that may go on to transmit infection. A preliminary observation that Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells contain triacylglycerol lipid bodies in sputum, but not when growing in vitro, led us to investigate the extent of this phenomenon and its physiological basis.
Methods and Findings
Microscopy-positive sputum samples from the UK and The Gambia were investigated for their content of lipid body–positive mycobacteria by combined Nile red and auramine staining. All samples contained a lipid body–positive population varying from 3% to 86% of the acid-fast bacilli present. The recent finding that triacylglycerol synthase is expressed by mycobacteria when they enter in vitro nonreplicating persistence led us to investigate whether this state was also associated with lipid body formation. We found that, when placed in laboratory conditions inducing nonreplicating persistence, two M. tuberculosis strains had lipid body levels comparable to those found in sputum. We investigated these physiological findings further by comparing the M. tuberculosis transcriptome of growing and nonreplicating persistence cultures with that obtained directly from sputum samples. Although sputum has traditionally been thought to contain actively growing tubercle bacilli, our transcript analyses refute the hypothesis that these cells predominate. Rather, they reinforce the results of the lipid body analyses by revealing transcriptional signatures that can be clearly attributed to slowly replicating or nonreplicating mycobacteria. Finally, the lipid body count was highly correlated (R2 = 0.64, p < 0.03) with time to positivity in diagnostic liquid cultures, thereby establishing a direct link between this cytological feature and the size of a potential nonreplicating population.
Conclusion
As nonreplicating tubercle bacilli are tolerant to the cidal action of antibiotics and resistant to multiple stresses, identification of this persister-like population of tubercle bacilli in sputum presents exciting and tractable new opportunities to investigate both responses to chemotherapy and the transmission of tuberculosis.
Studying sputum from humans with pulmonary tuberculosis, Michael Barer and colleagues detect mycobacteria containing lipid bodies. Analyses linking this cytological feature to a slow-growing phenotype sheds light on persistence.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. The symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests include chest X-rays, the tuberculin skin test, and sputum analysis. For the last of these tests, a sample of sputum (mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing) is collected and then taken to a laboratory where bacteriologists look for M. tuberculosis using special stains—tuberculosis-positive sputum contains “acid-fast bacilli”—and also try to grow bacteria from the sample. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics for several months. It is very important that this treatment is completed to ensure that all the M. tuberculosis bacteria in the body are killed and to prevent the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.
Why Was This Study Done?
Strenuous efforts are being made to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis but with limited success so far for many reasons. One barrier to success is the efficiency with which M. tuberculosis spreads from one person to another. Very little is known about this part of the bacteria's life cycle. If scientists could understand more about the transmission of M. tuberculosis between people, they might identify new therapeutic and preventative targets. In the study, therefore, the researchers examine the acid-fast bacilli in tuberculosis-positive sputum samples to get a snapshot of M. tuberculosis at the point of its transmission to a new person and ask how the characteristics of these bacilli compare with those of M. tuberculosis growing in the laboratory.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected sputum samples from patients with tuberculosis in the UK and The Gambia before they received any treatment, and looked for the presence of acid-fast bacilli containing “lipid bodies.” These small structures contain a fat called triacylglycerol. M. tuberculosis accumulates triacylglycerol when it is exposed to several stresses present during infection (for example, reduced oxygen or hypoxia) and the researchers suggest that the presence of this fat may help the bacteria survive during transmission and establish a new infection. They found that all the samples contained some lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli. Next, the researchers showed that M. tuberculosis grown in the laboratory under hypoxic conditions, which induce the bacteria to enter an antibiotic-tolerant condition called a “nonreplicating persistent” (NRP) state, also accumulated lipid bodies. This result suggests that the lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli in sputum might be in an NRP state. To test this idea, the researchers compared the pattern of mRNAs (the templates from which proteins are produced; the pattern of mRNAs is called the transcriptome and gives an idea of which proteins a cell is making under given conditions) made by growing cultures of M. tuberculosis, by M. tuberculosis maintained in the NRP state, and by the acid-fast bacilli in several sputum samples. The transcriptome of the sputum sample revealed production of many proteins made in the NRP state. Finally, the researchers showed that the time needed to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum samples increased as the proportion of lipid body–positive acid-fast bacilli in the sputum increased, just as one would suspect if the presence of lipid bodies signifies nongrowing cells.
What Do These Findings Mean?
It has been generally assumed that the acid-fast bacilli in sputum collected from patients with tuberculosis are rapidly replicating M. tuberculosis released from infected areas of the lungs. By identifying a population of bacteria that contain lipid bodies and that are in an NRP-like state in all the samples of sputum examined from two geographical sites, this study strongly challenges this assumption. The characteristics of this population of bacteria, the researchers suggest, might help them survive the adverse conditions that M. tuberculosis encounters during transmission between people and might partly explain why complete clearance of M. tuberculosis requires extended treatment with antibiotics. To establish the clinical significance of these findings, future studies will need to examine whether antibiotic treatment affects the frequency of lipid body–positive M. tuberculosis bacteria in patients' sputum and whether there is any relationship between this measurement and infectiousness, or clinical response to treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050075.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains pages on tuberculosis and on sputum culture (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Tuberculosis Elimination provides several fact sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The World Health Organization provides information on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050075
PMCID: PMC2276522  PMID: 18384229
4.  Smear positive extra pulmonary tuberculosis disease at University of Gondar Hospital, Northwest Ethiopia 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:21.
Background
While pulmonary tuberculosis is the most common presentation, extra pulmonary tuberculosis is also an important clinical problem. However, no adequate information had been made available on the prevalence of smear positive extra pulmonary tuberculosis in Gondar. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and possible risk factors of smear positive extra pulmonary tuberculosis among suspected patients at University of Gondar Hospital.
Methods
A cross-sectional study on extra pulmonary tuberculosis suspected patients was conducted at University of Gondar Hospital from January 2012 to April, 2012. Specimens of patients suspected of extra pulmonary tuberculosis were obtained from fine needle aspiration and body fluid samples collected by pathologist. Demographic characteristics and other variables were collected using a pretested semi-structured questionnaire. Smears were prepared from each sample and stained by Ziehel Neelson and Wright stain. The result of the study was analyzed with bivariate and multivariate logistic regression.
Result
A total of 344 extra pulmonary tuberculosis suspected clients were included in the study and specimens were taken from lymph node aspirates and body fluids. The overall prevalence of smear positive extra pulmonary tuberculosis was 34 (9.9%). Of these cases of extra pulmonary tuberculosis, lymph node tuberculosis constituted the largest proportion (82.4%). Among the 34 extra pulmonary tuberculosis patients, over half of them (52.9%) were positive for human immunodeficiency virus. The largest proportion of tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus cases occurred among persons with in the age group of 31–40 years. Previous history of tuberculosis (OR = 4.77, 95% CI 1.86-12.24), contact to a known tuberculosis cases (OR = 6.67 95% CI 2.78-16.90), history of underlying diseases (OR = 2.79 95% CI 1.15-6.78) and income (OR = 12.9 95% CI 2.25-68.02) were significantly associated with extra pulmonary tuberculosis infection.
Conclusion
The prevalence of smear positive extra pulmonary tuberculosis infection in Gondar is high. Screening of lymph node and other body fluid specimens for extra pulmonary tuberculosis could help for treatment, control and prevention of the disease.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-21
PMCID: PMC3558382  PMID: 23331864
Extra pulmonary tuberculosis; Acid fast bacilli; Northwest Ethiopia
5.  Sputum smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis: sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic algorithm 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:475.
Background
The diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is complicated by the increased presence of sputum smear negative tuberculosis. Diagnosis of smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis is made by an algorithm recommended by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme that uses symptoms, signs and laboratory results.
The objective of this study is to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the tuberculosis treatment algorithm used for the diagnosis of sputum smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis.
Methods
A cross-section study with prospective enrollment of patients was conducted in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania. For patients with sputum smear negative, sputum was sent for culture. All consenting recruited patients were counseled and tested for HIV. Patients were evaluated using the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme guidelines and those fulfilling the criteria of having active pulmonary tuberculosis were started on anti tuberculosis therapy. Remaining patients were provided appropriate therapy. A chest X-ray, mantoux test, and Full Blood Picture were done for each patient. The sensitivity and specificity of the recommended algorithm was calculated. Predictors of sputum culture positive were determined using multivariate analysis.
Results
During the study, 467 subjects were enrolled. Of those, 318 (68.1%) were HIV positive, 127 (27.2%) had sputum culture positive for Mycobacteria Tuberculosis, of whom 66 (51.9%) were correctly treated with anti-Tuberculosis drugs and 61 (48.1%) were missed and did not get anti-Tuberculosis drugs. Of the 286 subjects with sputum culture negative, 107 (37.4%) were incorrectly treated with anti-Tuberculosis drugs. The diagnostic algorithm for smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis had a sensitivity and specificity of 38.1% and 74.5% respectively. The presence of a dry cough, a high respiratory rate, a low eosinophil count, a mixed type of anaemia and presence of a cavity were found to be predictive of smear negative but culture positive pulmonary tuberculosis.
Conclusion
The current practices of establishing pulmonary tuberculosis diagnosis are not sensitive and specific enough to establish the diagnosis of Acid Fast Bacilli smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis and over treat people with no pulmonary tuberculosis.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-475
PMCID: PMC3216301  PMID: 22044882
Sputum smear negative; Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Symptoms
6.  Elevated ex vivo monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (CCL2) in pulmonary as compared with extra-pulmonary tuberculosis 
BMC Immunology  2005;6:14.
Background
Tuberculosis causes 3 million deaths annually. The most common site of tuberculosis is pulmonary however; extra-pulmonary forms of the disease also remain prevalent. Restriction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis depends on effective recruitment and subsequent activation of T lymphocytes, mononuclear and polymorphonuclear cells to the site of infection. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α is essential for granuloma formation and is a potent activator of monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1, CCL2). CCL2 is essential for recruitment of monocytes and T cells and has been shown to play a role in protection against tuberculosis. Interleukin -8 (CXCL8) is a potent activator of neutrophils. Increased levels of CCL2, CXCL8 and TNFα are reported in tuberculosis but their significance in different forms of tuberculosis is as yet unclear. We have used an ex vivo assay to investigate differences in immune parameters in patients with either pulmonary or extra-pulmonary tuberculosis.
Methods
Serum levels of CCL2, CXCL8 and TNFα were measured in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (N = 12), extra-pulmonary tuberculosis (N = 8) and BCG-vaccinated healthy volunteers (N = 12). Whole blood cells were stimulated with non-pathogenic Mycobacterium bovis bacille-Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine strain or bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and cyto/chemokines were monitored in supernatants.
Results
Circulating serum levels of CXCL8 and TNFα were raised in all tuberculosis patients, while CCL2 levels were not. There was no difference in spontaneous cytokine secretion from whole blood cells between patients and controls. M. bovis BCG-induced ex vivo CCL2 secretion was significantly greater in pulmonary as compared with both extra-pulmonary tuberculosis patients and endemic controls. In response to LPS stimulation, patients with pulmonary tuberculosis showed increased CCL2 and TNFα responses as compared with the extra-pulmonary group. BCG-, and LPS-induced CXCL8 secretion was comparable between patients and controls.
Conclusion
CCL2 is activated by TNFα and is essential for recruitment of monocytes and T cells to the site of mycobacterial infection. Increased CCL2 activation in pulmonary tuberculosis may result in a stronger cellular response as compared with extra-pulmonary tuberculosis patients, and this may contribute to the localization of infection to the pulmonary site.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-6-14
PMCID: PMC1182368  PMID: 16001981
7.  Multidrug Resistant Pulmonary Tuberculosis Treatment Regimens and Patient Outcomes: An Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis of 9,153 Patients 
Ahuja, Shama D. | Ashkin, David | Avendano, Monika | Banerjee, Rita | Bauer, Melissa | Bayona, Jamie N. | Becerra, Mercedes C. | Benedetti, Andrea | Burgos, Marcos | Centis, Rosella | Chan, Eward D. | Chiang, Chen-Yuan | Cox, Helen | D'Ambrosio, Lia | DeRiemer, Kathy | Dung, Nguyen Huy | Enarson, Donald | Falzon, Dennis | Flanagan, Katherine | Flood, Jennifer | Garcia-Garcia, Maria L. | Gandhi, Neel | Granich, Reuben M. | Hollm-Delgado, Maria G. | Holtz, Timothy H. | Iseman, Michael D. | Jarlsberg, Leah G. | Keshavjee, Salmaan | Kim, Hye-Ryoun | Koh, Won-Jung | Lancaster, Joey | Lange, Christophe | de Lange, Wiel C. M. | Leimane, Vaira | Leung, Chi Chiu | Li, Jiehui | Menzies, Dick | Migliori, Giovanni B. | Mishustin, Sergey P. | Mitnick, Carole D. | Narita, Masa | O'Riordan, Philly | Pai, Madhukar | Palmero, Domingo | Park, Seung-kyu | Pasvol, Geoffrey | Peña, Jose | Pérez-Guzmán, Carlos | Quelapio, Maria I. D. | Ponce-de-Leon, Alfredo | Riekstina, Vija | Robert, Jerome | Royce, Sarah | Schaaf, H. Simon | Seung, Kwonjune J. | Shah, Lena | Shim, Tae Sun | Shin, Sonya S. | Shiraishi, Yuji | Sifuentes-Osornio, José | Sotgiu, Giovanni | Strand, Matthew J. | Tabarsi, Payam | Tupasi, Thelma E. | van Altena, Robert | Van der Walt, Martie | Van der Werf, Tjip S. | Vargas, Mario H. | Viiklepp, Pirett | Westenhouse, Janice | Yew, Wing Wai | Yim, Jae-Joon
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001300.
Dick Menzies and colleagues report findings from a collaborative, individual patient-level meta-analysis of treatment outcomes among patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
Background
Treatment of multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is lengthy, toxic, expensive, and has generally poor outcomes. We undertook an individual patient data meta-analysis to assess the impact on outcomes of the type, number, and duration of drugs used to treat MDR-TB.
Methods and Findings
Three recent systematic reviews were used to identify studies reporting treatment outcomes of microbiologically confirmed MDR-TB. Study authors were contacted to solicit individual patient data including clinical characteristics, treatment given, and outcomes. Random effects multivariable logistic meta-regression was used to estimate adjusted odds of treatment success. Adequate treatment and outcome data were provided for 9,153 patients with MDR-TB from 32 observational studies. Treatment success, compared to failure/relapse, was associated with use of: later generation quinolones, (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 2.5 [95% CI 1.1–6.0]), ofloxacin (aOR: 2.5 [1.6–3.9]), ethionamide or prothionamide (aOR: 1.7 [1.3–2.3]), use of four or more likely effective drugs in the initial intensive phase (aOR: 2.3 [1.3–3.9]), and three or more likely effective drugs in the continuation phase (aOR: 2.7 [1.7–4.1]). Similar results were seen for the association of treatment success compared to failure/relapse or death: later generation quinolones, (aOR: 2.7 [1.7–4.3]), ofloxacin (aOR: 2.3 [1.3–3.8]), ethionamide or prothionamide (aOR: 1.7 [1.4–2.1]), use of four or more likely effective drugs in the initial intensive phase (aOR: 2.7 [1.9–3.9]), and three or more likely effective drugs in the continuation phase (aOR: 4.5 [3.4–6.0]).
Conclusions
In this individual patient data meta-analysis of observational data, improved MDR-TB treatment success and survival were associated with use of certain fluoroquinolones, ethionamide, or prothionamide, and greater total number of effective drugs. However, randomized trials are urgently needed to optimize MDR-TB treatment.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2010, 8.8 million people developed tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection—and 1.4 million people died from the disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze and usually infects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). The characteristic symptoms of tuberculosis are a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics regularly for at least 6 months. The standard treatment for tuberculosis comprises an initial intensive phase lasting 2 months during which four antibiotics are taken daily followed by a 4-month continuation phase during which two antibiotics are taken. However, global efforts to control tuberculosis are now being thwarted by the emergence of M. tuberculosis strains that are resistant to several antibiotics, including isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful, first-line (standard) anti-tuberculosis drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) can be cured using second-line anti-tuberculosis drugs, these are more expensive and more toxic than first-line drugs and optimal treatment regimens for MDR-TB have not been determined. Notably, there have been no randomized controlled trials of treatments for MDR-TB. Such trials, which compare outcomes (cure, treatment failure, relapse, and death) among patients who have been randomly assigned to receive different treatments, are the best way to compare different anti-tuberculosis drug regimens. It is possible, however, to get useful information about the association of various treatments for MDR-TB with outcomes from observational studies using a statistical approach called “individual patient data meta-analysis.” In observational studies, because patients are not randomly assigned to different treatments, differences in outcomes between treatment groups may not be caused by the different drugs they receive but may be due to other differences between the groups. An individual patient data meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine original patient data from several different studies. Here, the researchers use this approach to investigate the association of specific drugs, numbers of drugs and treatment duration with the clinical outcomes of patients with pulmonary MDR-TB.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used three recent systematic reviews (studies that use predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to identify studies reporting treatment outcomes of microbiologically confirmed MDR-TB. They obtained individual patient data from the authors of these studies and estimated adjusted odds (chances) of treatment success from the treatment and outcome data of 9,153 patients with MDR-TB provided by 32 centers. The use of later generation quinolones, ofloxacin, and ethionamide/prothionamide as part of multi-drug regimens were all associated with treatment success compared to failure, relapse or death, as were the use of four or more likely effective drugs (based on drug susceptibility testing of mycobacteria isolated from study participants) during the initial intensive treatment phase and the use of three or more likely effective drugs during the continuation phase. The researchers also report that among patients who did not die or stop treatment, the chances of treatment success increased with the duration of the initial treatment phase up to 7.1–8.5 months and with the total duration of treatment up to 18.6–21.5 months.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the use of specific drugs, the use of a greater number of effective drugs, and longer treatments may be associated with treatment success and the survival of patients with MDR-TR. However, these findings need to be interpreted with caution because of limitations in this study that may have affected the accuracy of its findings. For example, the researchers did not include all the studies they found through the systematic reviews in their meta-analysis (some authors did not respond to requests for individual patient data, for example), which may have introduced bias. Moreover, because the patients included in the meta-analysis were treated at 32 centers, there were many differences in their management, some of which may have affected the accuracy of the findings. Because of these and other limitations, the researchers note that, although their findings highlight several important questions about the treatment of MDR-TB, randomized controlled trials are urgently needed to determine the optimal treatment for MDR-TB.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001300.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including MDR-TB; its guidelines for the programmatic management of drug-resistant tuberculosis are available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on the treatment of tuberculosis and on MDR-TB
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including a drug-resistant tuberculosis visual tour
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
TB & ME, a collaborative blogging project run by patients being treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and Medecins sans Frontieres, provides information about MDR-TB and patient stories about treatment for MDR-TB
The Tuberculosis Survival Project, which aims to raise awareness of tuberculosis and provide support for people with tuberculosis, also provides personal stories about treatment for tuberculosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001300
PMCID: PMC3429397  PMID: 22952439
8.  Increased Frequency of Regulatory T Cells and T Lymphocyte Activation in Persons with Previously Treated Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis 
Extrapulmonary tuberculosis may be due to underlying immune compromise. Immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (Treg cells), and CD4+ T lymphocytes in general, are important in the host immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We evaluated T lymphocytes from patients after recovery from extrapulmonary tuberculosis, which may reflect conditions before M. tuberculosis infection. A case-control study was conducted among HIV-uninfected adults with previously treated extrapulmonary tuberculosis and 3 sets of controls: (i) subjects with previously treated pulmonary tuberculosis, (ii) close tuberculosis contacts with M. tuberculosis infection, and (iii) close tuberculosis contacts with no infection. Monocyte-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC-M) were stained for CD4+ CD25hi CD127low FoxP3+ cell (Treg cell) and T lymphocyte activation. Both characteristics were compared as continuous variables between groups with the Kruskal-Wallis test. There were 7 extrapulmonary tuberculosis cases, 18 pulmonary tuberculosis controls, 17 controls with M. tuberculosis infection, and 18 controls without M. tuberculosis infection. The median Treg cell proportion was highest among persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis (1.23%) compared to subjects with pulmonary tuberculosis (0.56%), latent M. tuberculosis infection (0.14%), or no M. tuberculosis infection (0.20%) (P = 0.001). The median proportion of CD4+ T lymphocytes that expressed the activation markers HLA-DR and CD38 was highest for CD4+ T lymphocytes from persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis (0.79%) compared to subjects with pulmonary tuberculosis (0.44%), latent M. tuberculosis infection (0.14%), or no M. tuberculosis infection (0.32%) (P = 0.005). Compared with controls, persons with previously treated extrapulmonary tuberculosis had the highest Treg cell frequency, but also the highest levels of CD4+ T lymphocyte activation. Immune dysregulation may be a feature of individuals at risk for extrapulmonary tuberculosis.
doi:10.1128/CVI.05263-11
PMCID: PMC3255960  PMID: 22038848
9.  A Multi-Country Non-Inferiority Cluster Randomized Trial of Frontloaded Smear Microscopy for the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1000443.
Luis Cuevas and colleagues report findings from a multicenter diagnostic clinical trial in tuberculosis, showing that the sensitivity and specificity of a “front-loaded” diagnostic scheme is not inferior to that of a standard diagnostic scheme.
Background
More than 50 million people around the world are investigated for tuberculosis using sputum smear microscopy annually. This process requires repeated visits and patients often drop out.
Methods and Findings
This clinical trial of adults with cough ≥2 wk duration (in Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Yemen) compared the sensitivity/specificity of two sputum samples collected “on the spot” during the first visit plus one sputum sample collected the following morning (spot-spot-morning [SSM]) versus the standard spot-morning-spot (SMS) scheme. Analyses were per protocol analysis (PPA) and intention to treat (ITT). A sub-analysis compared just the first two smears of each scheme, spot-spot and spot-morning.
In total, 6,627 patients (3,052 SSM/3,575 SMS) were enrolled; 6,466 had culture and 1,526 were culture-positive. The sensitivity of SSM (ITT, 70.2%, 95% CI 66.5%–73.9%) was non-inferior to the sensitivity of SMS (PPA, 65.9%, 95% CI 62.3%–69.5%). Similarly, the specificity of SSM (ITT, 96.9%, 95% CI 93.2%–99.9%) was non-inferior to the specificity of SMS (ITT, 97.6%, 95% CI 94.0%–99.9%). The sensitivity of spot-spot (ITT, 63.6%, 95% CI 59.7%–67.5%) was also non-inferior to spot-morning (ITT, 64.8%, 95% CI 61.3%–68.3%), as the difference was within the selected −5% non-inferiority limit (difference ITT = 1.4%, 95% CI −3.7% to 6.6%). Patients screened using the SSM scheme were more likely to provide the first two specimens than patients screened with the SMS scheme (98% versus 94.2%, p<0.01). The PPA and ITT analysis resulted in similar results.
Conclusions
The sensitivity and specificity of SSM are non-inferior to those of SMS, with a higher proportion of patients submitting specimens. The scheme identifies most smear-positive patients on the first day of consultation.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53339491
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly 10 million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis)—and about 1.7 million people die from the disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis, is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Thus, to control tuberculosis, it is essential that infected individuals are rapidly identified and treated. The “gold standard” diagnostic test for tuberculosis is mycobacterial culture, in which laboratory staff try to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum (mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing). However, although this test is sensitive (it detects most patients with tuberculosis) and has a high specificity (a low rate of false-positive results), it is too slow to produce results and too complex for routine use in the low- and middle-income countries where tuberculosis mainly occurs. In these countries, patients are usually investigated using direct sputum smear microscopy, a cheaper but less sensitive test in which multiple sputum samples treated with the acid-fast Ziehl-Neelsen stain are examined for the presence of M. tuberculosis bacilli.
Why Was This Study Done?
In most national tuberculosis control programs, patients provide an “on the spot” specimen during their initial consultation, a specimen collected at home the next morning, and another on-the-spot specimen when they bring their morning specimen to the clinic (a “spot-morning-spot,” or SMS, collection scheme). Unfortunately, patients often fail to return with their morning sample. Furthermore, the examination of three samples strains the limited laboratory resources of developing countries. Based on several recent reviews, the World Health Organization recently recommended that only two samples need be examined, a policy change that reduces the laboratory workload but does not avoid the problems of collecting a morning sample and patient drop-out during the diagnostic process. In this non-inferiority, cluster randomized trial, the researchers compare the sensitivity and specificity of a spot-spot-morning (SSM; two on-the-spot specimens collected during the first clinic visit an hour apart, and a third specimen collected at home the next morning) scheme for tuberculosis diagnosis with those of the standard SMS scheme. A non-inferiority trial investigates whether an intervention is not worse than a control intervention; a cluster randomized trial randomly assigns groups of patients rather than individual patients to the test and control interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 6,627 patients in Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Yemen who had had a cough for more than two weeks (a characteristic symptom of tuberculosis). A quarter of the patients had culture-positive tuberculosis. The centers participating in the study were randomly assigned each week for a year to use either the SMS or the SSM sample collection scheme. Compared to mycobacterial culture, the sensitivities of the SSM and SMS schemes were 70.2% and 65.9%, respectively, which indicates that the new scheme was non-inferior to the SMS scheme. Similarly, the specificity of SSM (96.9%) was non-inferior to that of SMS (97.6%). Importantly, the sensitivity of diagnosis using just the first two samples collected in the SSM scheme was also non-inferior to the sensitivity of diagnosis using the first two samples collected in the SMS scheme (63.6% versus 64.8%; the researchers defined non-inferiority of SSM as a difference in its sensitivity compared to that of SMS of less than −5%). Finally, patients tested using the SSM scheme were more likely to provide the first two samples than patients tested using the SMS scheme (98% versus 94.2%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a sputum collection scheme in which two samples are collected one hour apart followed by a morning specimen could identify as many smear-positive patients as the standard SMS scheme. Importantly, they also indicate that examination of the first two specimens alone identifies most smear-positive patients independently of which scheme is used. These findings suggest that the SSM scheme might be more suitable for tuberculosis diagnosis than the SMS scheme in locations where patients are likely to drop out of the diagnosis process (for example, in low- and middle-income countries, where patients often live a long way from clinics). However, for an SSM scheme to work effectively, an on-site laboratory with a same-day turn-around service will be essential, and tuberculosis clinics will need to minimize contact between patients waiting to provide their second on-the-spot specimen.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000443.
A related PLoS Medicine Research Article by Cuevas et al. uses LED fluorescence microscopy for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis diagnostics and on the recommendation to reduce the number of smears for diagnosis to two; the Stop TB Partnership provides information on global tuberculosis control (some information in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
A new Web site dedicated to the discussion and optimization of smear microscopy has recently been launched
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000443
PMCID: PMC3134460  PMID: 21765808
10.  LED Fluorescence Microscopy for the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Multi-Country Cross-Sectional Evaluation 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001057.
This study, nested within a clinical trial, by Luis Cuevas and colleagues finds that LED-FM microscopy has higher sensitivity but lower specificity than Zn microscopy for detecting tuberculosis in sputum samples.
Background
The diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in resource-limited settings relies on Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) smear microscopy. LED fluorescence microscopy (LED-FM) has many potential advantages over ZN smear microscopy, but requires evaluation in the field. The aim of this study was to assess the sensitivity/specificity of LED-FM for the diagnosis of pulmonary TB and whether its performance varies with the timing of specimen collection.
Methods and Findings
Adults with cough ≥2 wk were enrolled consecutively in Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Yemen. Sputum specimens were examined by ZN smear microscopy and LED-FM and compared with culture as the reference standard. Specimens were collected using a spot-morning-spot (SMS) or spot-spot-morning (SSM) scheme to explore whether the collection of the first two smears at the health care facility (i.e., “on the spot”) the first day of consultation followed by a morning sample the next day (SSM) would identify similar numbers of smear-positive patients as smears collected via the SMS scheme (i.e., one on-the-spot-smear the first day, followed by a morning specimen collected at home and a second on-the-spot sample the second day). In total, 529 (21.6%) culture-positive and 1,826 (74.6%) culture-negative patients were enrolled, of which 1,156 (49%) submitted SSM specimens and 1,199 (51%) submitted SMS specimens. Single LED-FM smears had higher sensitivity but lower specificity than single ZN smears. Using two LED-FM or two ZN smears per patient was 72.8% (385/529, 95% CI 68.8%–76.5%) and 65.8% (348/529, 95% CI 61.6%–69.8%) sensitive (p<0.001) and 90.9% (1,660/1,826, 95% CI 89.5%–92.2%) and 98% (1,790/1,826, 95% CI 97.3%–98.6%) specific (p<0.001). Using three LED-FM or three ZN smears per patient was 77% (408/529, 95% CI 73.3%–80.6%) and 70.5% (373/529, 95% CI 66.4%–74.4%, p<0.001) sensitive and 88.1% (95% CI 86.5%–89.6%) and 96.5% (95% CI 96.8%–98.2%, p<0.001) specific. The sensitivity/specificity of ZN smear microscopy and LED-FM did not vary between SMS and SSM.
Conclusions
LED-FM had higher sensitivity but, in this study, lower specificity than ZN smear microscopy for diagnosis of pulmonary TB. Performance was independent of the scheme used for collecting specimens. The introduction of LED-FM needs to be accompanied by appropriate training, quality management, and monitoring of performance in the field.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53339491
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Tuberculosis is a global public health problem. Every year, about 1.7 million people die from this contagious bacterial infection, and about 9 million new cases occur, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis, is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze, and usually infects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). Symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Because tuberculosis is easily transmitted and potentially deadly, it is important that it is diagnosed quickly and accurately and immediately treated. The “gold standard” diagnostic test for tuberculosis is mycobacterial culture (in liquid or solid medium), in which laboratory technicians try to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum (mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing). However, this test is expensive, so most patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis in resource-limited countries are investigated using sputum smear microscopy. In this cheaper but less sensitive test, sputum samples are “smeared” onto microscope slides, stained with Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) dye, and then examined with a microscope for the presence of M. tuberculosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
With smear microscopy, multiple samples have to be examined to increase the test's sensitivity (the proportion of patients with culture-positive tuberculosis that the test detects). Because each smear examination takes up to 10 minutes, tuberculosis diagnosis with ZN smear microscopy creates a large laboratory workload. A variant form of smear microscopy—light-emitting-diode fluorescence microscopy (LED-FM)—could reduce this workload. With LED-FM, smears stained with a fluorescent dye can be examined in a quarter of the time it takes to examine ZN smears. In this study, the researchers evaluate the sensitivity and specificity (the proportion of people with a negative smear among people without tuberculosis; a high specificity indicates a low false-positive rate) of LED-FM using samples collected in a trial undertaken in four resource-limited countries (Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Yemen) to investigate two schemes for sputum sample collection. In the spot-morning-spot (SMS) scheme, patients provide an on-the-spot specimen at their initial consultation, a specimen collected at home the next morning, and a second on-the-spot sample when they deliver their morning specimen. In the spot-spot-morning (SSM) scheme, patients provide two on-the-spot samples during their first clinic visit and a sample collected at home the next morning.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the main trial, the researchers collected sputum samples using the SMS or SSM scheme from 6,627 patients with a cough lasting more than two weeks. For their investigation of LED-FM, they examined nearly 2,400 samples (half SSM and half SMS specimens, about a quarter of which were tuberculosis culture-positive) with both ZN smear microscopy and LED-FM and determined the sensitivity and specificity of both tests—with one, two, or three sputum samples per patient—relative to mycobacterial solid culture. Single LED-FM smears had higher sensitivity but lower specificity than single ZN smears. The sensitivities of two LED-FM and two ZN smears were 72.8% and 65.8%, respectively; the specificities of these tests were 90.9% and 98.0%. The sensitivities of three LED-FM and three ZN smears were 77% and 70.5%, respectively; the specificities of these tests were 88.1% and 96.5%. The sensitivity and specificity of both tests was similar for samples collected using the SMS and the SSM schemes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in the resource-limited countries included in this trial, LED-FM has a higher sensitivity but lower specificity than ZN smear microscopy. The researchers calculate that in this study the accuracy of three LED-FM examinations was 85% (2,017 out of 2,355 patients were correctly classified as infected or uninfected), whereas the accuracy of three ZN smears was 91.8%. Thus, although LED-FM should identify more people with tuberculosis than ZN smear microscopy, because of its lower specificity, its use might also lead to more people without tuberculosis being needlessly treated for the disease. Nevertheless, provided that the introduction of LED-FM is accompanied by appropriate training and performance monitoring, LED-FM is an attractive potential tool for the laboratory diagnosis of tuberculosis that, together with a move towards the collection of two on-the-spot smears in a single clinic visit, could ensure that poor patients have access to timely tuberculosis diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001057.
Details of the parent trial in which the samples used in this study were collected are available in a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Cuevas et al.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis diagnostics; recent WHO policy statements on diagnosis of tuberculosis are available; the Stop TB Partnership provides information on global tuberculosis control (some information in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
A new Web site dedicated to the discussion and optimization of smear microscopy has recently been launched
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001057
PMCID: PMC3134458  PMID: 21765809
11.  Standardized Treatment of Active Tuberculosis in Patients with Previous Treatment and/or with Mono-resistance to Isoniazid: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000150.
Performing a systematic review of studies evaluating retreatment of tuberculosis or treatment of isoniazid mono-resistant infection, Dick Menzies and colleagues find a paucity of evidence to support the WHO-recommended regimen.
Background
A standardized regimen recommended by the World Health Organization for retreatment of active tuberculosis (TB) is widely used, but treatment outcomes are suspected to be poor. We conducted a systematic review of published evidence of treatment of patients with a history of previous treatment or documented isoniazid mono-resistance.
Methods and Findings
PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central database for clinical trials were searched for randomized trials in previously treated patients and/or those with with mono-resistance to isoniazid, published in English, French, or Spanish between 1965 and June 2008. The first two sources were also searched for cohort studies evaluating specifically the current retreatment regimen. In studies selected for inclusion, rifampin-containing regimens were used to treat patients with bacteriologically confirmed pulmonary TB, in whom bacteriologically confirmed failure and/or relapse had been reported. Pooled cumulative incidences and 95% CIs of treatment outcomes were computed with random effects meta-analyses and negative binomial regression. No randomized trials of the currently recommended retreatment regimen were identified. Only six cohort studies were identified, in which failure rates were 18%–44% in those with isoniazid resistance. In nine trials, using very different regimens in previously treated patients with mono-resistance to isoniazid, the combined failure and relapse rates ranged from 0% to over 75%. From pooled analysis of 33 trials in 1,907 patients with mono-resistance to isoniazid, lower failure, relapse, and acquired drug resistance rates were associated with longer duration of rifampin, use of streptomycin, daily therapy initially, and treatment with a greater number of effective drugs.
Conclusions
There are few published studies to support use of the current standardized retreatment regimen. Randomized trials of treatment of persons with isoniazid mono-resistance and/or a history of previous TB treatment are urgently needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly ten million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about 2 million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its symptoms include a persistent cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include chest X-rays and sputum slide exams and cultures in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing. The disease can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics regularly (daily or several times a week) for at least 6 months. However, 10%–20% of patients treated for tuberculosis in low- and middle-income countries need re-treatment because the initial treatment fails to clear M. tuberculosis from their body or because their disease returns after they have apparently been cured (treatment relapse). Patients who need re-treatment are often infected with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics commonly used to treat tuberculosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
As part of its strategy to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends standardized treatment regimens for tuberculosis. For re-treatment, WHO recommends an 8-month course of isoniazid, rifampin, and ethambutol with pyrazinamide and streptomycin added for the first 3 and 2 months, respectively. All these drugs are given daily (the preferred regimen) or three times a week. Unfortunately, although this regimen is now used to treat about 1 million patients each year, it yields poor results, particularly in regions where drug resistance is common. In this study (which was commissioned by WHO to provide the evidence needed for a revision of its treatment guidelines), the researchers undertake a systematic review (a search using specific criteria to identify relevant research studies, which are then appraised) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach that pools the results of several studies) of randomized trials and cohort studies (two types of study that investigate the efficacy of medical interventions) of re-treatment regimens in previously treated tuberculosis patients, and in patients with infection that was resistant to isoniazid (“mono-resistance”).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers' systematic search for published reports of randomized trials and cohort studies of the currently recommended re-treatment regimen identified no relevant randomized trials and only six cohort studies. In the three cohort studies in which the participants carried M. tuberculosis strains that were sensitive to all the antibiotics in the regimen, failure rates were generally low. However, in the studies in which the participants carried drug-resistant bacteria, failure rates ranged from 9% to 45%. The researchers also identified and analyzed the results of nine trials in which several re-treatment regimens, all of which deviated from the standardized regimen, were used in previously treated patients with isoniazid mono-resistance. In these trials, the combined failure and relapse rates ranged from 0% to more than 75%. Finally, the researchers analyzed the pooled results of 33 trials that investigated the effect of various regimens on nearly 2,000 patients (some receiving their first treatment for tuberculosis, some being re-treated) with isoniazid mono-resistance. This meta-analysis showed that lower relapse, failure, and acquired drug resistance rates were associated with longer duration of rifampicin treatment, use of streptomycin, daily therapy early in the treatment, and regimens that included a greater number of drugs to which the M. tuberculosis carried by the patient were sensitive.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that there is very little published evidence that supports the regimen currently recommended by WHO for the re-treatment of tuberculosis. Furthermore, this limited body of evidence is a patchwork of results gleaned from a few cohort studies and a set of randomized trials not specifically designed to test the efficacy of the standardized regimen. There is an urgent need, therefore, for a concerted international effort to initiate randomized trials of potential treatment regimens in both previously untreated and previously treated patients with all forms of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Because these trials will take some time to complete, the limited findings of the meta-analysis presented here may be used in the meantime to redesign and, hopefully, improve the current standardized re-treatment regimen. In fact, the revised WHO TB treatment guidelines will provide updated recommendations for patients with previously treated TB.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000150.
The results of another WHO-commissioned study into the treatment of tuberculosis are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Menzies et al. (Menzies D, Benedetti A, Paydar A, Martin I, Royce S, et al. (2009) Effect of Duration and Intermittency of Rifampin on Tuberculosis Treatment Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS Med 6(9): e1000146.)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The American Thoracic Society, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Infectious Diseases Society of America offer guidelines on TB treatment
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several facts sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The 2003 (2004 revision) WHO guidelines for national programs for the treatment of tuberculosis are available; WHO also provides information on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis (in several languages) and its 2009 annual report on global control of tuberculosis describes the current situation (key points are available in several languages)
The WHO publishes guidelines on TB treatment
For guidelines on drug susceptibility testing (DST) and other information on TB diagnostic tests, the Stop TB Partnership's New Diagnostics Working Group has created a new Web site called Evidence-Based Tuberculosis Diagnosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000150
PMCID: PMC2736403  PMID: 20101802
12.  Effect of Duration and Intermittency of Rifampin on Tuberculosis Treatment Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000146.
In a systematic review of randomized controlled trials on tuberculosis treatment, Dick Menzies and colleagues find shorter courses of rifampin to be associated with poorer treatment outcomes.
Background
Treatment regimens for active tuberculosis (TB) that are intermittent, or use rifampin during only the initial phase, offer practical advantages, but their efficacy has been questioned. We conducted a systematic review of treatment regimens for active TB, to assess the effect of duration and intermittency of rifampin use on TB treatment outcomes.
Methods and Findings
PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane CENTRAL database for clinical trials were searched for randomized controlled trials, published in English, French, or Spanish, between 1965 and June 2008. Selected studies utilized standardized treatment with rifampin-containing regimens. Studies reported bacteriologically confirmed failure and/or relapse in previously untreated patients with bacteriologically confirmed pulmonary TB. Pooled cumulative incidences of treatment outcomes and association with risk factors were computed with stratified random effects meta-analyses. Meta-regression was performed using a negative binomial regression model. A total of 57 trials with 312 arms and 21,472 participants were included in the analysis. Regimens utilizing rifampin only for the first 1–2 mo had significantly higher rates of failure, relapse, and acquired drug resistance, as compared to regimens that used rifampin for 6 mo. This was particularly evident when there was initial drug resistance to isoniazid, streptomycin, or both. On the other hand, there was little evidence of difference in failure or relapse with daily or intermittent schedules of treatment administration, although there was insufficient published evidence of the efficacy of twice-weekly rifampin administration throughout therapy.
Conclusions
TB treatment outcomes were significantly worse with shorter duration of rifampin, or with initial drug resistance to isoniazid and/or streptomycin. Treatment outcomes were similar with all intermittent schedules evaluated, but there is insufficient evidence to support administration of treatment twice weekly throughout therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—kills nearly two million people annually. It is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with tuberculosis cough. Most people infected with M. tuberculosis do not become ill—their immune system contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant within the body and can cause tuberculosis years later if immunity declines because of, for example, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss and night sweats. The disease can usually be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics regularly for several months although drug-resistant tuberculosis is increasingly widespread. The standardized drug regimen recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for previously uninfected patients consists of an initial treatment phase, in which rifampin, isoniazid, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide are taken daily or thrice weekly for 2 months, and a continuation phase, in which two antibiotics are taken for a further 4–6 months.
Why Was This Study Done?
Resistance to rifampicin, which can develop if this drug is not taken regularly, is associated with poor treatment outcomes, particularly in patients infected with isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis. WHO recommends, therefore, that health-care workers watch patients take all their doses of rifampicin (“directly observed therapy”). Treatment regimens for tuberculosis that use rifampicin only during the initial phase and/or give rifampicin several times a week (intermittently) rather than daily would make direct observation of treatment much easier but are such regimens effective? In this study (which, together with two similar studies, was commissioned by WHO to provide the evidence needed for a revision of their treatment guidelines), the researchers undertook a systematic review (a search using specific criteria to identify relevant research studies, which are then appraised and analyzed according to an explicit protocol) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach that pools the results of several studies) of published trials of various rifampicin-containing regimens for the treatment of tuberculosis in previously untreated patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 57 randomized controlled trials (studies in which groups of patients are randomly assigned to different interventions) that reported the treatment failure and/or relapse rates (determined by seeing whether M. tuberculosis could be grown from sputum brought up from the lungs by coughing, so-called bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis) associated with various rifampicin-containing treatment regimens. In their statistical analysis of the results of these trials (which involved more than 21,000 previously untreated patients), the researchers found that regimens that used rifampicin during only the first 1–2 months of treatment had higher rates of failure, relapse, and acquired drug resistance than regimens that used rifampicin for 6 months. Indeed, relapse rates decreased with the duration of rifampicin treatment up to 8 months of treatment. Furthermore, outcomes were particularly bad with regimens that included rifampicin during only the first 1–2 months of treatment if there was initial resistance to isoniazid and/or streptomycin (another antibiotic). Outcomes were similar, however, in regimens in which rifampicin was given daily throughout treatment, daily during the initial phase then twice or thrice weekly, or thrice weekly throughout treatment; insufficient evidence was available to evaluate the efficacy of regimens in which rifampicin was given twice weekly throughout treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that tuberculosis treatment regimens for previously untreated patients who use rifampicin during only the first two months of treatment should be phased out and replaced by regimens that use rifampicin for 6 months, particularly in settings where there is likely to be resistance to isoniazid and/or streptomycin. This recommendation will be made in the planned 2009 revision of the WHO tuberculosis treatment guidelines. In addition, these findings suggest that giving rifampicin thrice weekly is as effective as giving it daily during the initial phase or throughout treatment. Importantly, these findings also indicate that more trials are needed to investigate other dosing schedules, to determine the optimal duration of treatment, and to determine the best way to manage patients infected with isoniazid-resistant bacteria. Finally, since very few of the trials identified in the systematic review included HIV-positive participants, trials designed to test drug regimens in people infected with both HIV and M. tuberculosis are urgently needed to reduce global deaths from tuberculosis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000146.
The results of another WHO-commissioned study into the treatment of tuberculosis are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Menzies et al. (Menzies D, Benedetti A, Paydar A, Royce S, Pai M, et al. (2009) Standardized Treatment of Active Tuberculosis in Patients with Previous Treatment and/or with Mono-resistance to Isoniazid: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. PLoS Med 6(9): e1000150. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000150)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several facts sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The American Thoracic Society, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Infectious Diseases Society of America have published guidelines on TB treatment
The 2003 (2004 revision) WHO guidelines for national programs for the treatment of tuberculosis are available; WHO also provides information on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis (in several languages) and its 2009 annual report on global control of tuberculosis describes the current situation (key points are available in several languages)
The WHO publishes guidelines on TB treatment
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000146
PMCID: PMC2736385  PMID: 19753109
13.  Novel human genetic variants associated with extrapulmonary tuberculosis: a pilot genome wide association study 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:28.
Background
Approximately 5-10% of persons infected with M. tuberculosis develop tuberculosis, but the factors associated with disease progression are incompletely understood. Both linkage and association studies have identified human genetic variants associated with susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis, but few genetic studies have evaluated extrapulmonary disease. Because extrapulmonary and pulmonary tuberculosis likely have different underlying pathophysiology, identification of genetic mutations associated with extrapulmonary disease is important.
Findings
We performed a pilot genome-wide association study among 24 persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis and well-characterized immune defects; 24 pulmonary tuberculosis patients and 57 patients with M. tuberculosis infection served as controls. The Affymetrix GeneChip Human Mapping Xba Array was used for genotyping; after careful quality control, genotypes at 44,175 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were available for analysis. Eigenstrat quantified population stratification within our sample; logistic regression, using results of the Eigenstrat analysis as a covariate, identified significant associations between groups. Permutation testing controlled the family-wise error rate for each comparison between groups. Four SNPs were significantly associated with extrapulmonary tuberculosis compared to controls with M. tuberculosis infection; one (rs4893980) in the gene PDE11A, one (rs10488286) in KCND2, and one (rs2026414) in PCDH15; one was in chromosome 7 but not associated with a known gene. Two additional variants were significantly associated with extrapulmonary tuberculosis compared with pulmonary tuberculosis; one (rs340708) in the gene FAM135B and one in chromosome 13 but not associated with a known gene. The function of all four genes affects cell signaling and activity, including in the brain.
Conclusions
In this pilot study, we identified 6 novel variants not previously known to be associated with extrapulmonary tuberculosis, including two SNPs more common in persons with extrapulmonary than pulmonary tuberculosis. This provides some support for the hypothesis that the pathogenesis and genetic predisposition to extrapulmonary tuberculosis differs from pulmonary tuberculosis. Further study of these novel SNPs, and more well-powered genome-wide studies of extrapulmonary tuberculosis, is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-28
PMCID: PMC3041678  PMID: 21281516
14.  The Influence of Host and Bacterial Genotype on the Development of Disseminated Disease with Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(3):e1000034.
The factors that govern the development of tuberculosis disease are incompletely understood. We hypothesized that some strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) are more capable of causing disseminated disease than others and may be associated with polymorphisms in host genes responsible for the innate immune response to infection. We compared the host and bacterial genotype in 187 Vietnamese adults with tuberculous meningitis (TBM) and 237 Vietnamese adults with uncomplicated pulmonary tuberculosis. The host genotype of tuberculosis cases was also compared with the genotype of 392 cord blood controls from the same population. Isolates of M. tuberculosis were genotyped by large sequence polymorphisms. The hosts were defined by polymorphisms in genes encoding Toll-interleukin 1 receptor domain containing adaptor protein (TIRAP) and Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR-2). We found a significant protective association between the Euro-American lineage of M. tuberculosis and pulmonary rather than meningeal tuberculosis (Odds ratio (OR) for causing TBM 0.395, 95% confidence intervals (C.I.) 0.193–0.806, P = 0.009), suggesting these strains are less capable of extra-pulmonary dissemination than others in the study population. We also found that individuals with the C allele of TLR-2 T597C allele were more likely to have tuberculosis caused by the East-Asian/Beijing genotype (OR = 1.57 [95% C.I. 1.15–2.15]) than other individuals. The study provides evidence that M. tuberculosis genotype influences clinical disease phenotype and demonstrates, for the first time, a significant interaction between host and bacterial genotypes and the development of tuberculosis.
Author Summary
Tuberculosis, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, kills over 2 million people each year. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the world population is infected with M. tuberculosis, though the majority will never develop active disease. The most severe form of tuberculosis occurs when the bacterium spreads to the brain to cause meningitis. We examined whether the genetic variation of the person and the bacteria influenced the type of disease a person develops. We have previously shown that certain mutations in genes of the human immune system can predispose adults in Vietnam to developing tuberculous meningitis. In this study we show that some strains of M. tuberculosis commonly found in Europe and America are less likely to cause tuberculous meningitis in Vietnamese adults than strains predominantly found in Asia. We then looked at the interaction between M. tuberculosis strains and mutations in human immune genes and show that a particular mutation, TLR2 T597C, is more commonly found in patients infected with the East-Asian/Beijing strains of M. tuberculosis. This is the first study to look at both the host and pathogen genotypes together in tuberculosis infection, and the findings suggest that the outcome of exposure to M. tuberculosis can depend on both the human genotype and the bacterial genotype.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000034
PMCID: PMC2268004  PMID: 18369480
15.  THE RELATION OF APICAL TUBERCULOSIS OF ADULTS TO THE FOCAL TUBERCULOSIS OF CHILDREN 
The age incidence of focal tuberculous lesions of the lungs demonstrates that they have their origin in most instances in childhood. Focal lesions which heal have been found at all ages after the 2nd year of life, but in more than half of all individuals these lesions are acquired between the ages of 10 and 18 years. In the period between 18 and 30 years at least 85 per cent of all individuals have 'acquired focal tuberculous lesions. The occurrence of tuberculous infection in the lungs, in regional lymphatic nodes, or in some other organs of the body such as the gastrointestinal tract and its lymphatic system, is nearly universal but doubtless a few individuals escape. That focal tuberculous lesions of the lung are occasionally acquired during adult life is shown by the slight increase in the proportion of those with these lesions as age increases from 18 years to old age. Apical lesions of the lung make their appearance in later childhood and occur with increasing frequency from adolescence to old age (50 per cent). After the 2nd year of life focal tuberculous lesions occurring in situations other than the apices of the lungs tend to heal and after the 10th year focal lesions are almost invariably encapsulated and latent or healed. Fatal tuberculosis after the 10th year is with few exceptions apical in origin. The apices are not only more susceptible to infection in later life but once infected afford less resistance to the extension of the lesion. The present series of cases has furnished opportunity to observe the character of the apical lesion in lungs of individuals previously infected with tuberculosis. With one exception the apical lesion (in eight instances) has pursued a chronic course and, encapsulated by fibrous tissue, has remained limited to the extreme apex of the lung. In one instance in a woman with advanced malignant disease chronic pulmonary tuberculosis has been progressive. Tuberculosis of the apices in those who have previously acquired a focal tuberculous lesion has pursued a chronic course and in most instances has remained latent or has completely healed. A very small group of instances of fatal pulmonary tuberculosis suggests that apical lesions in those who have not undergone previous infection may assume an unusually severe character. One instance of apical tuberculosis unaccompanied by focal lesions and followed by tuberculosis of the thoracic duct and disseminated miliary tuberculosis has been especially significant. Apical tuberculosis unaccompanied by evidence of preexisting tuberculosis may be accompanied by tuberculosis of the regional lymphatic nodes, whereas apical tuberculosis in an individual with a preexistent focal tuberculous lesion is not followed by tuberculosis of adjacent lymphatic nodes. It is well known that tuberculosis in previously uninfected animals is followed by tuberculosis of adjacent lymphatic nodes, whereas a second infection fails to implicate the regional lymphatic nodes. This relation has been well illustrated by the lungs of a monkey which acquired in confinement acute tuberculous pneumonia limited to the left lung; the lymphatic nodes on this side were greatly enlarged and caseous. The following observations indicate that apical tuberculosis of adults is not the result of infantile tuberculosis but is caused by subsequent infection: (a) Apical tuberculosis does not have its highest incidence, in accordance with common belief, in early adult life when focal infections acquired in childhood are relatively fresh and active but is more common in later life when the focal lesions of childhood have in most instances completely healed. It is noteworthy that most of these apical lesions of later life pursue a chronic course and are discovered at autopsy in individuals who have died from other causes. (b) The well characterized lesions of tuberculosis acquired in childhood and found in adults with apical lesions are almost invariably calcified and healed. The apical lesion is in most instances relatively fresh and caseous whereas the focal pulmonary lesion and associated lesions of regional lymphatic nodes exhibit no evidence of activity. (c) In a large proportion of instances of associated focal and apical tuberculosis the focal lesion is in one lung, whereas the apical lesion is limited to the opposite apex. This relation affords no support to the view that tuberculous lesions may be transmitted to the apex by way of the lymphatics.
PMCID: PMC2125652  PMID: 19868149
16.  Abnormal Immune Responses in Persons with Previous Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis in an In Vitro Model That Simulates In Vivo Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis have reduced peripheral blood mononuclear cell cytokine production and CD4+ lymphocytes compared to persons with previous pulmonary tuberculosis or latent tuberculosis infection, but specific defects related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection of macrophages have not been characterized. The objective of this study was to further characterize the in vitro immune responses to M. tuberculosis infection in HIV-seronegative persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated from HIV-seronegative persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis (n = 11), previous pulmonary tuberculosis (n = 21), latent M. tuberculosis infection (n = 19), and uninfected tuberculosis contacts (n = 20). Experimental conditions included M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages cultured with and without monocyte-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Concentrations of interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-4, IL-6, CXCL8 (IL-8), IL-10, IL-12p70, IL-17, CCL2 (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) were measured by multiplex cytokine array. When M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages were cocultured with monocyte-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells, IFN-γ (P = 0.01), TNF-α (P = 0.04), IL-10 (P < 0.001), and IL-6 (P = 0.03) exhibited similar continua of responses, with uninfected persons producing the lowest levels, followed by extrapulmonary tuberculosis cases, pulmonary tuberculosis controls, and persons with latent M. tuberculosis infection. A similar pattern was observed with CXCL8 (P = 0.04), IL-10 (P = 0.02), and CCL2 (P = 0.03) when monocyte-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the four groups were cultured alone. Persons with previous extrapulmonary tuberculosis had decreased production of several cytokines, both at rest and after stimulation with M. tuberculosis. Our results suggest that persons who develop extrapulmonary tuberculosis have a subtle global immune defect that affects their response to M. tuberculosis infection.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00221-12
PMCID: PMC3416084  PMID: 22675156
17.  Polymorphic Allele of Human MRC1 Confer Protection against Tuberculosis in a Chinese Population 
Mannose receptor is a member of the C-type lectin receptor family involved in pathogen molecular-pattern recognition, and plays a critical role in shaping host immune response. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the MRC1 gene may affect expression levels and differences in the structure and function of proteins in different individuals, thereby affecting individual susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis. However, to date, MRC1 polymorphisms associated with susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis have not yet been reported. The present study aimed to investigate potential associations of SNPs in the MRC1 gene with pulmonary tuberculosis in a Chinese population. Six SNPs (G1186A, G1195A, T1212C, C1221G, C1303T and C1323T) in exon 7 of the MRC1 gene were genotyped using the PCR and DNA sequencing methods in the pulmonary tuberculosis patients and the healthy controls. Linkage disequilibrium analysis was performed between polymorphic sites. The study found that the allele frequency of G1186A (rs34039386) of the MRC1 gene in a Chinese population was higher in the pulmonary tuberculosis group than the healthy control group. There was a significant difference in frequency distribution between the two groups (P = 0.037; OR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.58-0.98). Genotypic analysis also indicated that the AG genotypes in a Chinese population were significantly correlated with pulmonary tuberculosis (P < 0.01; OR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.37-0.87). After adjustment for age and gender, G1186A sites were found to be dominant (P < 0.01; OR = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.40-0.87), over-dominant (P = 0.045; OR = 0.69; 95% CI, 0.47-0.99) and additive models (P = 0.041; OR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.59-0.99) in association with pulmonary tuberculosis. But, no association was found between the other 5 SNPs (G1195A, T1212C, C1221G, C1303T and C1323T) and tuberculosis (P > 0.05). This study is the first to report that genetic variants in the MRC1 gene can be associated with pulmonary tuberculosis in a Chinese population, and may reduce the risk of infecting pulmonary tuberculosis. This also provides a new experimental basis to clarify the pathogenesis of pulmonary tuberculosis.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.4047
PMCID: PMC3291854  PMID: 22393309
Mannose receptor; MRC1 gene; Tuberculosis; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; Chinese.
18.  Nonlinear pattern of pulmonary tuberculosis among migrants at entry in Kuwait: 1997–2006 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:264.
Background
There is a paucity of published data on the pattern of pulmonary tuberculosis among migrant workers entering Middle Eastern countries particularly Kuwait. The objectives of this study were to use routine health surveillance data i) to estimate the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis among migrant workers at entry in Kuwait and ii) to determine the occurrence of any time trends in the proportions of pulmonary tuberculosis positive workers over the study period.
Methods
The monthly aggregates of daily number of migrants tested and the number of pulmonary tuberculosis cases detected during routine health examinations of migrant workers from tuberculosis high-prevalence countries were used to generate the monthly series of proportions (per 100,000) of pulmonary tuberculosis cases over 120 months between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2006 and analysed using time series methods.
Results
The overall prevalence (per 100,000) of documented pulmonary tuberculosis cases among screened migrants was 198 (4608/2328582). Year-specific prevalence (per 100,000) of tuberculosis cases consistently declined from 456 (95% CI: 424 – 490) in 1997 to 124 (95% CI: 110 – 140) in 2002 before showing a steady increase up to 183 (95% CI: 169–197) in 2006. The second-order polynomial regression model revealed significant (P < 0.001) initial decline, followed by a significant (P < 0.001) increasing trend thereafter in monthly proportions of tuberculosis cases among migrant workers.
Conclusion
The proportions of documented tuberculosis cases among migrant workers showed a significant nonlinear pattern, with an initial decline followed by a significant increasing trend towards the end of the study period. These findings underscore the need to maintain the current policy of migrants' screening for tuberculosis at entry. The public health authorities in Kuwait and perhaps other countries in the region may consider complementing the current screening protocol with interferon-γ assays to detect migrants with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. An appropriate curative or preventive chemotherapy of detected tuberculosis cases may help in further minimizing the risk of local transmission of M. tuberculosis, while contributing in global efforts to control this public health menace.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-264
PMCID: PMC2527606  PMID: 18667057
19.  Variants of the Natural Resistance–Associated Macrophage Protein 1 Gene (NRAMP1) Are Associated with Severe Forms of Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
Although genetic factors may affect susceptibility to tuberculosis, studies that have assessed variants of the natural resistance–associated macrophage protein 1 gene (NRAMP1) and their association with tuberculosis in humans have yielded conflicting results. It is likely that NRAMP1 polymorphisms may be associated with progression to severe forms of pulmonary tuberculosis rather than with susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. To test this possibility, we examined NRAMP1 variants at the INT4 and D543N loci, as well as their association with severe forms of pulmonary tuberculosis, in 127 patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis and in 91 ethnically matched, healthy control subjects in areas of China where tuberculosis is endemic. We found that NRAMP1 polymorphisms at these 2 loci were significantly associated with 2 severe forms of pulmonary tuberculosis: sputum smear–positive tuberculosis and cavitary tuberculosis. The NRAMP1 variants were not associated with pulmonary M. tuberculosis infection, when analyses of all patients with tuberculosis and all control subjects were performed. The findings of the present study support the hypothesis that genetic variants of NRAMP1 may have an effect on bacilli growth and on outcomes of pulmonary tuberculosis, but not on susceptibility to M. tuberculosis infection.
doi:10.1086/428726
PMCID: PMC2865238  PMID: 15825023
20.  Trends and predictors of changes in pulmonary function after treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis 
Clinics  2011;66(4):549-556.
OBJECTIVES:
The present study aimed to investigate the trends in changes in pulmonary function and the risk factors for pulmonary function deterioration in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis after completing treatment.
INTRODUCTION:
Patients usually have pulmonary function abnormalities after completing treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis. The time course for changes in pulmonary function and the risk factors for deterioration have not been well studied.
METHODS:
A total of 115 patients with 162 pulmonary function results were analyzed. We retrieved demographic and clinical data, radiographic scores, bacteriological data, and pulmonary function data. A generalized additive model with a locally weighted scatterplot smoothing technique was used to evaluate the trends in changes in pulmonary function. A generalized estimating equation model was used to determine the risk factors associated with deterioration of pulmonary function.
RESULTS:
The median interval between the end of anti-tuberculosis treatment and the pulmonary function test was 16 months (range: 0 to 112 months). The nadir of pulmonary function occurred approximately 18 months after the completion of the treatment. The risk factors associated with pulmonary function deterioration included smear-positive disease, extensive pulmonary involvement prior to anti-tuberculosis treatment, prolonged anti-tuberculosis treatment, and reduced radiographic improvement after treatment.
CONCLUSIONS:
After the completion of anti-tuberculosis TB treatment, several risk factors predicted pulmonary function deterioration. For patients with significant respiratory symptoms and multiple risk factors, the pulmonary function test should be followed up to monitor the progression of functional impairment, especially within the first 18 months after the completion of anti-tuberculosis treatment.
doi:10.1590/S1807-59322011000400005
PMCID: PMC3095809  PMID: 21655745
completion of treatment; disease extent; pulmonary function; pulmonary tuberculosis
21.  Personal and Societal Health Quality Lost to Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5080.
Background
In developed countries, tuberculosis is considered a disease with little loss of Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Tuberculosis treatment is predominantly ambulatory and death from tuberculosis is rare. Research has shown that there are chronic pulmonary sequelae in a majority of patients who have completed treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB). This and other health effects of tuberculosis have not been considered in QALY calculations. Consequently both the burden of tuberculosis on the individual and the value of tuberculosis prevention to society are underestimated. We estimated QALYs lost to pulmonary TB patients from all known sources, and estimated health loss to prevalent TB disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We calculated values for health during illness and treatment, pulmonary impairment after tuberculosis (PIAT), death rates, years-of-life-lost to death, and normal population health. We then compared the lifetime expected QALYs for a cohort of tuberculosis patients with that expected for comparison populations with latent tuberculosis infection and without tuberculosis infection. Persons with culture-confirmed tuberculosis accrued fewer lifetime QALYs than those without tuberculosis. Acute tuberculosis morbidity cost 0.046 QALYs (4% of total) per individual. Chronic morbidity accounted for an average of 0.96 QALYs (78% of total). Mortality accounted for 0.22 QALYs lost (18% of total). The net benefit to society of averting one case of PTB was about 1.4 QALYs.
Conclusions/Significance
Tuberculosis, a preventable disease, results in QALYs lost owing to illness, impairment, and death. The majority of QALYs lost from tuberculosis resulted from impairment after microbiologic cure. Successful TB prevention efforts yield more health quality than previously thought and should be given high priority by health policy makers. (Refer to Abstracto S1 for Spanish language abstract)
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005080
PMCID: PMC2660416  PMID: 19352424
22.  Tuberculosis (HIV-negative people) 
Clinical Evidence  2009;2009:0904.
Introduction
About a third of the world's population has latent tuberculosis. In 2004, over 14 million people had active tuberculosis. Approximately 1.7 million people died from the infection. Over 80% of new cases diagnosed in 2004 were in people in Africa, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific regions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions to prevent tuberculosis in people without HIV infection at high risk of developing tuberculosis? What are the effects of interventions to prevent tuberculosis in people without HIV infection at high risk of developing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis? What are the effects of different drug regimens in people with newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis without HIV infection? What are the effects of different drug regimens in people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis without HIV infection? What are the effects of low-level laser therapy in people with tuberculosis without HIV infection? Which interventions improve adherence to treatment in people with tuberculosis without HIV infection? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to July 2008 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 31 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adding pyrazinamide in chemotherapy regimens lasting up to 6 months; adding rifampicin to isoniazid regimens; benefits of different regimens; chemotherapy for less than 6 months; daily chemotherapy; direct observation treatment; intermittent chemotherapy for 6 months or longer; isoniazid; low-level laser therapy for pulmonary tuberculosis; regimens containing quinolones; rifampicin plus isoniazid; substituting rifampicin with ethambutol in the continuous phase; and support mechanisms for directly observed treatment.
Key Points
About a third of the world's population has latent tuberculosis. Over 14 million people had active tuberculosis in 2004, many of whom also had HIV. Approximately 1.7 million people died from the infection.Over 80% of new cases diagnosed in 2004 were in people in Africa, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific regions.
Most people who inhale Mycobacterium tuberculosis clear the infection and become skin-test positive. Active infection is more likely in people affected by social factors, such as poverty, overcrowding, homelessness, and inadequate health care, or with reduced immune function — such as with HIV infection.Some people develop latent infection — persistent bacterial presence which is asymptomatic and not infectious.
Drug treatments can reduce the risk of active tuberculosis in people at high risk of infection. Prophylactic isoniazid for 6 months can reduce the risk of tuberculosis infection in high-risk people without HIV, but increases the risk of hepatotoxicity. Rifampicin plus isoniazid for 3-4 months, or isoniazid for 6-12 months, may be equally effective at reducing active infection rates in people with latent tuberculosis.
Treatment requires chemotherapy with combination regimens. Adding rifampicin to isoniazid is more effective than isoniazid treatment alone, and more effective than ethambutol plus isoniazid regimens.Regimens including pyrazinamide improve short-term sputum clearance, but long-term effects are unclear. Quinolones, such as ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and moxifloxacin, have not been shown to improve outcomes compared with ethambutol, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide regimens, but the evidence is sparse.
The optimal length of treatment seems to be 6 months, but evidence is not robust. Relapse rates are the same after 6 months' treatment compared with longer regimens. Intermittent chemotherapy, taken 2−3 times a week, may be as effective as daily treatment for 6 months or more, but the evidence is weak.
Current practice in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is to use at least three drugs to which the particular strain is sensitive.
Direct observation of treatment (DOT) does not seem to increase cure rates compared with self-administered treatment. We don't know how different types of support mechanisms for DOT compare with each other.
PMCID: PMC2907790  PMID: 19445749
23.  Tuberculosis (HIV-negative people) 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0904.
Introduction
About one third of the world's population has latent tuberculosis. In 2004, more than 14 million people had active tuberculosis. About 1.7 million people died from the infection in 2006. More than 80% of new cases diagnosed in 2004 were in people in Africa, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific regions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions to prevent tuberculosis in people without HIV infection at high risk of developing tuberculosis? What are the effects of interventions to prevent tuberculosis in people without HIV infection at high risk of developing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis? What are the effects of different drug regimens in people with newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis without HIV infection? What are the effects of different drug regimens in people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis without HIV infection? What are the effects of low-level laser therapy in people with tuberculosis without HIV infection? Which interventions improve adherence to treatment in people with tuberculosis without HIV infection? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 32 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adding pyrazinamide in chemotherapy regimens lasting up to 6 months, adding rifampicin to isoniazid regimens, benefits of different regimens, chemotherapy for <6 months, daily chemotherapy, direct observation treatment, intermittent chemotherapy for 6 months or longer, isoniazid, low-level laser therapy for pulmonary tuberculosis, regimens containing quinolones, rifampicin plus isoniazid, substituting rifampicin with ethambutol in the continuous phase, and support mechanisms for directly observed treatment.
Key Points
About one third of the world's population has latent tuberculosis. More than 14 million people had active tuberculosis in 2004, many of whom also had HIV. There were more than 9.2 million new cases of active TB and 1.7 million deaths from TB in 2006. More than 80% of new cases diagnosed in 2004 and in 2006 were in people in Africa, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific regions.
Most people who inhale Mycobacterium tuberculosis clear the infection and become skin-test positive. Active infection is more likely in people affected by social factors (such as poverty, overcrowding, homelessness, and inadequate health care) or with reduced immune function (such as with HIV infection).Some people develop latent infection, persistent bacterial presence that is asymptomatic and not infectious.
Drug treatments can reduce the risk of active tuberculosis in people at high risk of infection. Prophylactic isoniazid for 6 months can reduce the risk of tuberculosis infection in high-risk people without HIV, but increases the risk of hepatotoxicity. Rifampicin plus isoniazid for 3 to 4 months, or isoniazid for 6 to 12 months, may be equally effective at reducing active infection rates in people with latent tuberculosis.
Treatment requires chemotherapy with combination regimens. Adding rifampicin to isoniazid is more effective than isoniazid treatment alone, and more effective than ethambutol plus isoniazid regimens.Regimens including pyrazinamide improve short-term sputum clearance, but long-term effects are unclear. Quinolones, such as ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and moxifloxacin, have not been shown to improve outcomes compared with ethambutol, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide regimens, but the evidence is sparse.
The optimal length of treatment seems to be 6 months, but evidence is not robust. Relapse rates are the same after 6 months' treatment compared with longer regimens. Intermittent chemotherapy, taken 2 to 3 times a week, may be as effective as daily treatment for 6 months or more, but the evidence is weak.
Current practice in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is to use at least three drugs to which the particular strain is sensitive.
Direct observation of treatment (DOT) does not increase cure rates compared with self-administered treatment. We don't know how different types of support mechanisms for DOT compare with each other.
PMCID: PMC3275295  PMID: 21396138
24.  The Value of Routinely Culturing for Tuberculosis During Bronchoscopies in an Intermediate Tuberculosis-Burden Country 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2007;48(6):969-972.
Purpose
Many medical centers routinely culture bronchoscopy samples for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, even when tuberculosis is not strongly suspected. The value of this practice, however, is controversial. We evaluated the role of that procedure in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in an intermediate tuberculosis-burden country.
Patients and Methods
A prospective, observational study was conducted in a tertiary referral center and included 733 consecutive patients who underwent bronchoscopy examination.
Results
M. tuberculosis was isolated in 47 patients (6.4%). According to radiographic features, the rate of positive culture for M. tuberculosis was relatively high in patients with atelectasis (5/33, 15.2%) and those with pulmonary infiltrations of suspicious infections (26/183, 14.2%). M. tuberculosis was isolated even in patients with pulmonary masses (9/266, 3.4%) and those with pulmonary nodules (5/175, 2.9%). In 16/47 (34.0%) patients with positive cultures for M. tuberculosis, active pulmonary tuberculosis was not suspected at the time of bronchoscopy.
Conclusion
These results suggest that routinely culturing for M. tuberculosis during bronchoscopy is still useful in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in an intermediate tuberculosis-burden country.
doi:10.3349/ymj.2007.48.6.969
PMCID: PMC2628186  PMID: 18159588
Bronchoscopy; diagnosis; pulmonary tuberculosis
25.  Commercial Serological Antibody Detection Tests for the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e202.
Background
The global tuberculosis epidemic results in nearly 2 million deaths and 9 million new cases of the disease a year. The vast majority of tuberculosis patients live in developing countries, where the diagnosis of tuberculosis relies on the identification of acid-fast bacilli on unprocessed sputum smears using conventional light microscopy. Microscopy has high specificity in tuberculosis-endemic countries, but modest sensitivity which varies among laboratories (range 20% to 80%). Moreover, the sensitivity is poor for paucibacillary disease (e.g., pediatric and HIV-associated tuberculosis). Thus, the development of rapid and accurate new diagnostic tools is imperative. Immune-based tests are potentially suitable for use in low-income countries as some test formats can be performed at the point of care without laboratory equipment. Currently, dozens of distinct commercial antibody detection tests are sold in developing countries. The question is “do they work?”
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to assess the accuracy of commercial antibody detection tests for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. Studies from all countries using culture and/or microscopy smear for confirmation of pulmonary tuberculosis were eligible. Studies with fewer than 50 participants (25 patients and 25 control participants) were excluded. In a comprehensive search, we identified 68 studies. The results demonstrate that (1) overall, commercial tests vary widely in performance; (2) sensitivity is higher in smear-positive than smear-negative samples; (3) in studies of smear-positive patients, Anda-TB IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay shows limited sensitivity (range 63% to 85%) and inconsistent specificity (range 73% to 100%); (4) specificity is higher in healthy volunteers than in patients in whom tuberculosis disease is initially suspected and subsequently ruled out; and (5) there are insufficient data to determine the accuracy of most commercial tests in smear microscopy–negative patients, as well as their performance in children or persons with HIV infection.
Conclusions
None of the commercial tests evaluated perform well enough to replace sputum smear microscopy. Thus, these tests have little or no role in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. Lack of methodological rigor in these studies was identified as a concern. It will be important to review the basic science literature evaluating serological tests for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis to determine whether useful antigens have been described but their potential has not been fully exploited. Activities leading to the discovery of new antigens with immunodiagnostic potential need to be intensified.
Based on a systematic review, Madhukar Pai and colleagues conclude that none of the commercial immune-based tests for pulmonary tuberculosis so far evaluated perform well enough to replace sputum smear microscopy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tuberculosis (TB) is, globally, one of the most important infectious diseases. It is thought that in 2005 around 1.6 million people died as a result of TB. Controlling TB requires that the disease is correctly diagnosed so that it can then be promptly treated, which will reduce the risk of infection being passed on to other individuals. The method normally used for diagnosing TB disease in poor countries (where most people with TB disease live) involves taking a sample of mucus coughed up from the lungs; this mucus is then spread thinly onto a glass slide, dyed, and viewed under the microscope. The bacteria responsible for TB take up the dye in a particular pattern and can be clearly seen under the microscope. Although this test (sputum smear) is relatively straightforward to carry out even where facilities are basic, it is not particularly good at identifying TB disease in children or amongst individuals who are HIV-positive. Finally, the sputum smear test is also not very sensitive; that is, many people who have TB disease may not give a positive reading. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and evaluate new tests that are suitable for use in poor countries, which will accurately diagnose TB disease, especially amongst children and people who are HIV-positive.
Why Was This Study Done?
New tests for TB have become available which detect whether an individual has raised antibodies against particular proteins and other substances present on the surface of the TB bacterium. These tests are carried out on blood samples, once blood cells and other factors have been taken out. These antibody tests are often quite simple to carry out, so in principle they could be suitable for use in developing countries. Since the tests are available on the market and can be freely used in some developing countries without any need for government regulatory bodies to approve them, it is important to know how good these tests are at diagnosing TB disease. The researchers here wanted, therefore, to evaluate all of the available data relating to the accuracy of antibody detection tests for diagnosis of TB disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In order to evaluate all of the information available on commercial antibody detection tests for diagnosis of TB disease of the lungs, the researchers carried out a systematic review. First, they searched biomedical literature databases using specific terms to identify studies for inclusion. A study was included in their analysis if the commercial test was compared against one of two other standard tests (sputum smear microscopy, or growth of TB bacteria in culture). One researcher from the team then pulled out specific pieces of information from each published study: these included the type of study design; information on study participants; the type of test; what the test was compared against; and finally the results of evaluation of the test. A second researcher pulled out pieces of information from several of the same studies. The researchers then compared the information to ensure that it was recorded correctly. Each study was also assigned a quality rating, based on four distinct criteria. For each type of test, the researchers used the data in the published studies to work out the test's accuracy, both in terms of its ability to give a positive reading for people who have TB disease as well as its ability to give a negative reading for people who do not have TB disease.
The researchers found 27 papers meeting their criteria. These papers reported the results of 68 original studies. Nine different commercial tests were examined in the studies. Overall, the studies seemed to be of relatively poor quality, with only 25% of them meeting all four of the researchers' criteria for a good-quality study. The different studies appeared to produce varying results for the accuracy of these commercial tests. In particular, the tests seemed to be less accurate at detecting TB disease amongst people who had a negative sputum smear than amongst people with a positive sputum smear. When all the data for these different studies were combined, the statistics indicated that the commercial tests, overall, were only modestly accurate for diagnosis of TB disease. None of the studies had been carried out in children or in HIV-positive people.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this systematic review suggest that the commercial antibody detection tests considered here are not particularly useful in diagnosis of TB disease as compared to other tests, such as sputum smear and bacterial culture. Some people are concerned that there is pressure in certain developing countries to start using these tests, but the current data do not support greater use. This systematic review also highlights the fact that many studies evaluating commercial TB tests are of poor quality, and that further research needs to be done to evaluate the accuracy of different TB tests amongst children and HIV-positive patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040202.
World Health Organization Stop TB Department website. Information about the current Stop TB strategy, data and factsheets about TB, and other resources are available
Questions and Answers about Tuberculosis provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Information about TB tests from Médicins sans Frontières (MSF). Links to MSF reports on new diagnostic tests are also available
Wikipedia entry on Systematic Reviews (Note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040202
PMCID: PMC1891320  PMID: 17564490

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