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1.  Psychological distress and its relationship with non-adherence to TB treatment: a multicentre study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2015;15:253.
The successful cure of tuberculosis (TB) is dependent on adherence to treatment. Various factors influence adherence, however, few are easily modifiable. There are limited data regarding correlates of psychological distress and their association with non-adherence to anti-TB treatment.
In a trial of a new TB test, we measured psychological distress (K-10 score), TB-related health literacy, and morbidity (TBscore), prior to diagnosis in 1502 patients with symptoms of pulmonary TB recruited from clinics in Cape Town (n = 419), Harare (n = 400), Lusaka (n = 400), Durban (n = 200), and Mbeya (n = 83). Socioeconomic, demographic, and alcohol usage-related data were captured. Patients initiated on treatment had their DOTS cards reviewed at two-and six-months.
22 %(95 % CI: 20 %, 25 %) of patients had severe psychological distress (K-10 ≥ 30). In a multivariable linear regression model, increased K-10 score was independently associated with previous TB [estimate (95 % CI) 0.98(0.09-1.87); p = 0.0304], increased TBscore [1(0.80, 1.20); p <0.0001], and heavy alcohol use [3.08(1.26, 4.91); p = 0.0010], whereas male gender was protective [-1.47(−2.28, −0.62); p = 0.0007]. 26 % (95 % CI: 21 %, 32 %) of 261 patients with culture-confirmed TB were non-adherent. In a multivariable logistic regression model for non-adherence, reduced TBscore [OR (95 % CI) 0.639 (0.497, 0.797); p = 0.0001], health literacy score [0.798(0.696, 0.906); p = 0.0008], and increased K-10 [1.082(1.033, 1.137); p = 0.0012], and heavy alcohol usage [14.83(2.083, 122.9); p = 0.0002], were independently associated. Culture-positive patients with a K-10 score ≥ 30 were more-likely to be non-adherent (OR = 2.290(1.033-5.126); p = 0.0416].
Severe psychological distress is frequent amongst TB patients in Southern Africa. Targeted interventions to alleviate psychological distress, alcohol use, and improve health literacy in newly-diagnosed TB patients could reduce non-adherence to treatment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0964-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4487582  PMID: 26126655
Tuberculosis; Psychological distress; Socioeconomic status; Treatment non-adherence
2.  Achieving Systemic and Scalable Private Sector Engagement in Tuberculosis Care and Prevention in Asia 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001842.
William Wells and colleagues describe opportunities for improving public-private health provider partnerships to tackle TB.
PMCID: PMC4477873  PMID: 26103555
3.  Xpert® Mtb/Rif assay for pulmonary tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in adults 
Accurate, rapid detection of tuberculosis (TB) and TB drug resistance is critical for improving patient care and decreasing TB transmission. Xpert® MTB/RIF assay is an automated test that can detect both TB and rifampicin resistance, generally within two hours after starting the test, with minimal hands-on technical time. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued initial recommendations on Xpert® MTB/RIF in early 2011. A Cochrane Review on the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for pulmonary TB and rifampicin resistance was published January 2013. We performed this updated Cochrane Review as part of a WHO process to develop updated guidelines on the use of the test.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for pulmonary TB (TB detection), where Xpert® MTB/RIF was used as both an initial test replacing microscopy and an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for rifampicin resistance detection, where Xpert® MTB/RIF was used as the initial test replacing culture-based drug susceptibility testing (DST).
The populations of interest were adults presumed to have pulmonary, rifampicin-resistant or multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), with or without HIV infection. The settings of interest were intermediate- and peripheral-level laboratories. The latter may be associated with primary health care facilities.
Search methods
We searched for publications in any language up to 7 February 2013 in the following databases: Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register; MEDLINE; EMBASE; ISI Web of Knowledge; MEDION; LILACS; BIOSIS; and SCOPUS. We also searched the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) and the search portal of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform to identify ongoing trials.
Selection criteria
We included randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional studies, and cohort studies using respiratory specimens that allowed for extraction of data evaluating Xpert® MTB/RIF against the reference standard. We excluded gastric fluid specimens. The reference standard for TB was culture and for rifampicin resistance was phenotypic culture-based DST.
Data collection and analysis
For each study, two review authors independently extracted data using a standardized form. When possible, we extracted data for subgroups by smear and HIV status. We assessed the quality of studies using QUADAS-2 and carried out meta-analyses to estimate pooled sensitivity and specificity of Xpert® MTB/RIF separately for TB detection and rifampicin resistance detection. For TB detection, we performed the majority of analyses using a bivariate random-effects model and compared the sensitivity of Xpert® MTB/RIF and smear microscopy against culture as reference standard. For rifampicin resistance detection, we undertook univariate meta-analyses for sensitivity and specificity separately to include studies in which no rifampicin resistance was detected.
Main results
We included 27 unique studies (integrating nine new studies) involving 9557 participants. Sixteen studies (59%) were performed in low- or middle-income countries. For all QUADAS-2 domains, most studies were at low risk of bias and low concern regarding applicability.
As an initial test replacing smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 89% [95% Credible Interval (CrI) 85% to 92%] and pooled specificity 99% (95% CrI 98% to 99%), (22 studies, 8998 participants: 2953 confirmed TB, 6045 non-TB).As an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result, Xpert®MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 67% (95% CrI 60% to 74%) and pooled specificity 99% (95% CrI 98% to 99%; 21 studies, 6950 participants).
For smear-positive, culture-positive TB, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%; 21 studies, 1936 participants).
For people with HIV infection, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 79% (95% CrI 70% to 86%; 7 studies, 1789 participants), and for people without HIV infection, it was 86% (95% CrI 76% to 92%; 7 studies, 1470 participants).
Comparison with smear microscopy
In comparison with smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF increased TB detection among culture-confirmed cases by 23% (95% CrI 15% to 32%; 21 studies, 8880 participants).
For TB detection, if pooled sensitivity estimates for Xpert® MTB/RIF and smear microscopy are applied to a hypothetical cohort of 1000 patients where 10% of those with symptoms have TB, Xpert® MTB/RIF will diagnose 88 cases and miss 12 cases, whereas sputum microscopy will diagnose 65 cases and miss 35 cases.
Rifampicin resistance
For rifampicin resistance detection, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 95% (95% CrI 90% to 97%; 17 studies, 555 rifampicin resistance positives) and pooled specificity was 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%; 24 studies, 2411 rifampicin resistance negatives). Among 180 specimens with nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), Xpert® MTB/RIF was positive in only one specimen that grew NTM (14 studies, 2626 participants).
For rifampicin resistance detection, if the pooled accuracy estimates for Xpert® MTB/RIF are applied to a hypothetical cohort of 1000 individuals where 15% of those with symptoms are rifampicin resistant, Xpert® MTB/RIF would correctly identify 143 individuals as rifampicin resistant and miss eight cases, and correctly identify 833 individuals as rifampicin susceptible and misclassify 17 individuals as resistant. Where 5% of those with symptoms are rifampicin resistant, Xpert® MTB/RIF would correctly identify 48 individuals as rifampicin resistant and miss three cases and correctly identify 931 individuals as rifampicin susceptible and misclassify 19 individuals as resistant.
Authors' conclusions
In adults thought to have TB, with or without HIV infection, Xpert® MTB/RIF is sensitive and specific. Compared with smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF substantially increases TB detection among culture-confirmed cases. Xpert® MTB/RIF has higher sensitivity for TB detection in smear-positive than smear-negative patients. Nonetheless, this test may be valuable as an add-on test following smear microscopy in patients previously found to be smear-negative. For rifampicin resistance detection, Xpert® MTB/RIF provides accurate results and can allow rapid initiation of MDR-TB treatment, pending results from conventional culture and DST. The tests are expensive, so current research evaluating the use of Xpert® MTB/RIF in TB programmes in high TB burden settings will help evaluate how this investment may help start treatment promptly and improve outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4470349  PMID: 24448973
4.  Xpert® Mtb/Rif assay for pulmonary tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in adults 
Accurate and rapid detection of tuberculosis (TB) and drug resistance are critical for improving patient care and decreasing the spread of TB. Xpert® MTB/RIF assay (Xpert) is a rapid, automated test that can detect both TB and rifampicin resistance, within two hours after starting the test, with minimal hands-on technical time, but is more expensive than conventional sputum microscopy.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert for pulmonary TB (TB detection), both where Xpert was used as an initial test replacing microscopy, and where Xpert was used as an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert for rifampicin resistance detection where Xpert was used as the initial test, replacing conventional culture-based drug susceptibility testing.
The population of interest was adults suspected of having pulmonary TB or multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), with or without HIV infection.
Search methods
We performed a comprehensive search of the following databases: Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register; MEDLINE; EMBASE; ISI Web of Knowledge; MEDION; LILACS; BIOSIS; and SCOPUS. We also searched the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) and the search portal of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform to identify ongoing trials. We performed searches on 25 September 2011 and we repeated them on 15 December 2011, without language restriction.
Selection criteria
We included randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional, and cohort studies that used respiratory specimens to compare Xpert with culture for detecting TB and Xpert with conventional phenotypic drug susceptibility testing for detecting rifampicin resistance.
Data collection and analysis
For each study, two review authors independently extracted a set of data using a standardized data extraction form. When possible, we extracted data for subgroups by smear and HIV status. We assessed the quality of studies using the QUADAS-2 tool. We carried out meta-analyses to estimate the pooled sensitivity and specificity of Xpert separately for TB detection and rifampicin resistance detection using a bivariate random-effects model. We estimated the median pooled sensitivity and specificity and their 95% credible intervals (CrI).
Main results
We identified 18 unique studies as eligible for this review, including two multicentre international studies, one with five and the other with six distinct study centres. The majority of studies (55.6%) were performed in low-income and middle-income countries. In 17 of the 18 studies, Xpert was performed by trained technicians in reference laboratories.
When used as an initial test replacing smear microscopy (15 studies, 7517 participants), Xpert achieved a pooled sensitivity of 88% (95% CrI 83% to 92%) and pooled specificity of 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%). As an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result (14 studies, 5719 participants), Xpert yielded a pooled sensitivity of 67% (95% CrI 58% to 74%) and pooled specificity of 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%). In clinical subgroups, we found the following accuracy estimates: the pooled sensitivity was 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%) for smear-positive, culture-positive TB and 68% (95% CrI 59% to 75%) for smear-negative, culture-positive TB (15 studies); the pooled sensitivity was 80% (95% CrI 67% to 88%) in people living with HIV and 89% (95% CrI 81% to 94%) in people without HIV infection (four studies). For rifampicin resistance detection (11 studies, 2340 participants), Xpert achieved a pooled sensitivity of 94% (95% CrI 87% to 97%) and pooled specificity of 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%). In a separate analysis, Xpert could distinguish between TB and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) in clinical samples with high accuracy: among 139 specimens with NTM, Xpert was positive in only one specimen that grew NTM.
In a hypothetical cohort of 1000 individuals suspected of having rifampicin resistance (a proxy for MDR-TB), where the prevalence of rifampicin resistance is 30%, we estimated that on average Xpert would wrongly identify 14 patients as being rifampicin resistant. In comparison, where the prevalence of rifampicin resistance is only 2%, we estimated that the number of individuals wrongly identified as rifampicin resistant would increase to 20, an increase of 43%.
Authors' conclusions
This review shows that Xpert used as an initial diagnostic test for TB detection and rifampicin resistance detection in patients suspected of having TB, MDR-TB, or HIV-associated TB is sensitive and specific. Xpert may also be valuable as an add-on test following microscopy for patients who have previously been found to be smear-negative. An Xpert result that is positive for rifampicin resistance should be carefully interpreted and take into consideration the risk of MDR-TB in a given patient and the expected prevalence of MDR-TB in a given setting.
Studies in this review mainly assessed sensitivity and specificity of the test when used in reference laboratories in research investigations. Most studies were performed in high TB burden countries. Ongoing use of Xpert in high TB burden countries will contribute to the evidence base on the diagnostic accuracy and clinical impact of Xpert in routine programmatic and peripheral health care settings, including settings where the test is performed at the point of care.
PMCID: PMC4470352  PMID: 23440842
6.  Costs and Consequences of Using Interferon-γ Release Assays for the Diagnosis of Active Tuberculosis in India 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124525.
There is growing concern that interferon-γ release assays (IGRAs) are being used off-label for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB) disease in many high-burden settings, including India, where the background prevalence of latent TB infection is high. We analyzed the costs and consequences of using IGRAs for the diagnosis of active TB in India from the perspective of the Indian TB control sector.
Methods and Findings
We constructed a decision analytic model to estimate the incremental cost and effectiveness of IGRAs for the diagnosis of active TB in India. We compared a reference scenario of clinical examination and non-microbiological tests against scenarios in which clinical diagnosis was augmented by the addition of either sputum smear microscopy, IGRA, or Xpert MTB/RIF. We examined costs (in 2013 US dollars) and consequences from the perspective of the Indian healthcare sector. Relative to sputum smear microscopy, use of IGRA for active TB resulted in 23,700 (95% uncertainty range, UR: 3,800 – 38,300) additional true-positive diagnoses, but at the expense of 315,700 (95% UR: 118,300 – 388,400) additional false-positive diagnoses and an incremental cost of US$49.3 million (95% UR: $34.9 – $58.0 million) (2.9 billion Indian Rupees). Relative to Xpert MTB/RIF (including the cost of treatment for drug resistant TB), use of IGRA led to 400 additional TB cases treated (95% UR: [-8,000] – 16,200), 370,600 (95% UR: 252,200 – 441,700) more false-positive diagnoses, 70,400 (95% UR: [-7,900] – 247,200) fewer disability-adjusted life years averted, and US$14.6 million (95%UR: [-$7.2] – $28.7 million) (854 million Indian Rupees) in additional costs.
Using IGRAs for diagnosis of active TB in a setting like India results in tremendous overtreatment of people without TB, and substantial incremental cost with little gain in health. These results support the policies by WHO and Standards for TB Care in India, which discourage the use of IGRAs for the diagnosis of active TB in India and similar settings.
PMCID: PMC4412573  PMID: 25918999
7.  Testing and Treating the Missing Millions with Tuberculosis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(3):e1001805.
In a Guest Editorial on World TB Day, Madhukar Pai and Puneet Dewan identify programmatic and policy changes needed to end TB by 2035.
PMCID: PMC4371886  PMID: 25803483
9.  Innovations in Tuberculosis Diagnostics: Progress and Translational Challenges 
EBioMedicine  2015;2(3):182-183.
PMCID: PMC4484823  PMID: 26137556
10.  Gamma Interferon Release Assays for Detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2014;27(1):3-20.
Identification and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) can substantially reduce the risk of developing active disease. However, there is no diagnostic gold standard for LTBI. Two tests are available for identification of LTBI: the tuberculin skin test (TST) and the gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assay (IGRA). Evidence suggests that both TST and IGRA are acceptable but imperfect tests. They represent indirect markers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure and indicate a cellular immune response to M. tuberculosis. Neither test can accurately differentiate between LTBI and active TB, distinguish reactivation from reinfection, or resolve the various stages within the spectrum of M. tuberculosis infection. Both TST and IGRA have reduced sensitivity in immunocompromised patients and have low predictive value for progression to active TB. To maximize the positive predictive value of existing tests, LTBI screening should be reserved for those who are at sufficiently high risk of progressing to disease. Such high-risk individuals may be identifiable by using multivariable risk prediction models that incorporate test results with risk factors and using serial testing to resolve underlying phenotypes. In the longer term, basic research is necessary to identify highly predictive biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3910908  PMID: 24396134
11.  Modeling the Impact of Alternative Strategies for Rapid Molecular Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Southeast Asia 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(12):1740-1749.
Novel diagnostic tests hold promise for improving tuberculosis (TB) control, but their epidemiologic impact remains uncertain. Using data from the World Health Organization (2011–2012), we developed a transmission model to evaluate the deployment of 3 hypothetical TB diagnostic tests in Southeast Asia under idealized scenarios of implementation. We defined diagnostics by their sensitivity for smear-negative TB and proportion of patients testing positive who initiate therapy (“point-of-care amenability”), with tests of increasing point-of-care amenability having lower sensitivity. Implemented in the public sector (35% of care-seeking attempts), each novel test reduced TB incidence by 7%–9% (95% uncertainty range: 4%–13%) and mortality by 20%–22% (95% uncertainty range: 14%–27%) after 10 years. If also deployed in the private sector (65% of attempts), these tests reduced incidence by 13%–16%, whereas a perfect test (100% sensitivity and treatment initiation) reduced incidence by 20%. Annually detecting 20% of prevalent TB cases through targeted screening (70% smear-negative sensitivity, 85% treatment initiation) also reduced incidence by 19%. Sensitivity and point-of-care amenability are equally important considerations when developing novel diagnostic tests for TB. Novel diagnostics can substantially reduce TB incidence and mortality in Southeast Asia but are unlikely to transform TB control unless they are deployed actively and in the private sector.
PMCID: PMC3858106  PMID: 24100953
diagnostic techniques and procedures; epidemiologic methods; Southeast Asia; theoretical models; tuberculosis
12.  Challenges with QuantiFERON-TB Gold Assay for Large-Scale, Routine Screening of U.S. Healthcare Workers 
Rationale: North American occupational health programs that switched from the tuberculin skin test (TST) to IFN-γ release assays for latent tuberculosis screening are reporting challenges with interpretation of serial testing results in healthcare workers (HCWs). However, limited data exist on the reproducibility of serial IFN-γ release assay results in low-risk HCWs.
Objectives: To evaluate the short-term reproducibility of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT) in a large cohort of HCWs and to define a QFT cutoff yielding a conversion rate equivalent to historical TST rates.
Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the QFT results from HCWs with two or more QFT tests performed between June 2008 and July 2010 at an academic institution. Outcome measures were proportions of reproducibility, quantitative results, and conversion rates with alternate QFT cutoffs.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 9,153 HCWs with two or more QFT tests were included in the analysis. Of 8,227 individuals with a negative result, 4.4% (n = 361) converted their QFT result over 2 years. A total of 261 (72.3%) of the HCWs with conversions underwent repeat short-term testing after the first positive result with 64.8% reverting (n = 169). An IFN-γ cutoff of 5.3 IU/ml or higher (manufacturer’s cutoff is ≥0.35 IU/ml) yielded a conversion rate of 0.4%, equal to our institution’s historical TST conversion rate.
Conclusions: The manufacturer’s definition of QFT conversion results in an inflated conversion rate that is incompatible with our low-risk setting. A significantly higher QFT cutoff value is needed to match the historical TST conversion rate. Nonreproducible conversions in most converters suggested false-positive results.
PMCID: PMC3826285  PMID: 23978270
interferon-γ release assay; QuantiFERON; healthcare workers; reproducibility of results
13.  Delays in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis in India: a systematic review 
To systematically review Indian literature on delays in TB diagnosis and treatment.
We searched multiple sources for studies on delays in pulmonary TB and chest symptomatic patients. Studies were included if numeric data on any delay were reported. Patient delay was defined as the time interval between onset of symptoms and the patient’s first contact with a healthcare provider. Diagnostic delay was defined as the time interval between the first consultation with a healthcare provider and diagnosis. Treatment delay was defined as the time interval between diagnosis and initiation of anti-TB treatment. Total delay was defined as time interval from the onset of symptoms until treatment initiation.
Among 541 potential citations identified, 23 studies met our inclusion criteria. Included studies used a variety of definitions for onset of symptoms and delays. Median (IQR) estimates of patient, diagnostic and treatment delay were 18.4 (14.3-27.0), 31.0 (24.5-35.4) and 2.5 days (1.9-3.6), respectively, for TB and chest symptomatic patients combined. The median total delay was 55.3 days (46.5-61.5). About 48% of all patients first consulted private providers and 2.7 healthcare providers, on average, were consulted before diagnosis. Number and type of provider first consulted were the most important risk factors for delay.
These findings underscore the need to develop novel strategies for reducing patient and diagnostic delays and engaging first-contact healthcare providers.
PMCID: PMC4070850  PMID: 24670558
Tuberculosis; Delayed Diagnosis; Delivery of Health Care; Care Seeking Behaviour; India
14.  The Importance of Implementation Strategy in Scaling Up Xpert MTB/RIF for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in the Indian Health-Care System: A Transmission Model 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001674.
Using a modelling approach, David Dowdy and colleagues investigate how different implementation strategies for Xpert MTB/RIF within the complex, fragmented healthcare system of India may affect tuberculosis control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
India has announced a goal of universal access to quality tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment. A number of novel diagnostics could help meet this important goal. The rollout of one such diagnostic, Xpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) is being considered, but if Xpert is used mainly for people with HIV or high risk of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the public sector, population-level impact may be limited.
Methods and Findings
We developed a model of TB transmission, care-seeking behavior, and diagnostic/treatment practices in India and explored the impact of six different rollout strategies. Providing Xpert to 40% of public-sector patients with HIV or prior TB treatment (similar to current national strategy) reduced TB incidence by 0.2% (95% uncertainty range [UR]: −1.4%, 1.7%) and MDR-TB incidence by 2.4% (95% UR: −5.2%, 9.1%) relative to existing practice but required 2,500 additional MDR-TB treatments and 60 four-module GeneXpert systems at maximum capacity. Further including 20% of unselected symptomatic individuals in the public sector required 700 systems and reduced incidence by 2.1% (95% UR: 0.5%, 3.9%); a similar approach involving qualified private providers (providers who have received at least some training in allopathic or non-allopathic medicine) reduced incidence by 6.0% (95% UR: 3.9%, 7.9%) with similar resource outlay, but only if high treatment success was assured. Engaging 20% of all private-sector providers (qualified and informal [providers with no formal medical training]) had the greatest impact (14.1% reduction, 95% UR: 10.6%, 16.9%), but required >2,200 systems and reliable treatment referral. Improving referrals from informal providers for smear-based diagnosis in the public sector (without Xpert rollout) had substantially greater impact (6.3% reduction) than Xpert scale-up within the public sector. These findings are subject to substantial uncertainty regarding private-sector treatment patterns, patient care-seeking behavior, symptoms, and infectiousness over time; these uncertainties should be addressed by future research.
The impact of new diagnostics for TB control in India depends on implementation within the complex, fragmented health-care system. Transformative strategies will require private/informal-sector engagement, adequate referral systems, improved treatment quality, and substantial resources.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial disease that usually infects the lungs—is a global public health problem. Each year, about 8.7 million people develop active tuberculosis and about 1.4 million people die from the disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, is spread in airborne droplets when people with active disease cough or sneeze. The characteristic symptoms of tuberculosis are a persistent cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include sputum smear microscopy (microscopic analysis of mucus coughed up from the lungs), the growth of M. tuberculosis from sputum samples, and new molecular tests (for example, the automated Xpert MTB/RIF test) that rapidly and accurately detect M. tuberculosis in patient samples and determine its resistance to certain antibiotics. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several antibiotics daily for at least six months, although the recent emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis is making the disease increasingly hard to treat.
Why Was This Study Done?
About 25% of all tuberculosis cases occur in India. Most people in India with underlying tuberculosis initially seek care for cough from the private health-care sector, which comprises informal providers with no formal medical training and providers with some training in mainstream or alternative medicine. Private providers rarely investigate for tuberculosis, and patients often move between providers, with long diagnostic delays. The public sector ultimately diagnoses and treats more than half of tuberculosis cases. However, the public sector relies on sputum smear microscopy, which misses half of cases, and the full diagnostic process from symptom onset to treatment initiation can take several months, during which time individuals remain infectious. Could the rollout of molecular diagnostic tests improve tuberculosis control in India? The Indian Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) is currently introducing the Xpert MTB/RIF test (Xpert) as a rapid method for drug susceptibility testing in the public sector in people at high risk of MDR tuberculosis, but is this the most effective rollout strategy? Here, the researchers use a mathematical transmission model to investigate the likely effects of the rollout of Xpert in India using different implementation strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers explored the impact of several rollout strategies on the incidence of tuberculosis (the number of new cases of tuberculosis in the population per year) by developing a mathematical model of tuberculosis transmission, care-seeking behavior, and diagnostic/treatment practices in India. Compared to a baseline scenario of no improved diagnostic testing, provision of Xpert to 40% of public-sector patients at high risk of MDR tuberculosis (scenario 1, the current national strategy) reduced the incidence of tuberculosis by 0.2% and the incidence of MDR tuberculosis by 2.4%. Implementation of this strategy required 2,500 additional courses of MDR tuberculosis treatment and the continuous use of 60 Xpert machines, about half the machines procured in India during 2013. A scenario that added access to Xpert for 20% of all individuals with tuberculosis symptoms seeking diagnosis in the public sector and 20% of individuals seeking care from qualified private practitioners to scenario 1 reduced the incidence of tuberculosis by 14.1% compared to the baseline scenario but required more than 2,200 Xpert machines and reliable treatment referral. Notably, a scenario that encouraged informal providers to refer suspected tuberculosis cases to the public sector for smear-based diagnosis (no Xpert rollout) had a greater impact on the incidence of tuberculosis than Xpert scale-up within the public sector.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings are subject to considerable uncertainty because of the assumptions made in the transmission model about private-sector treatment patterns, patient care-seeking behavior, and infectiousness, and the quality of the data fed into the model. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the rollout of Xpert (or other new diagnostic methods with similar characteristics) could substantially reduce the burden of tuberculosis due to poor diagnosis in India. Importantly, these findings highlight how the impact of Xpert rollout relies not only on the accuracy of the test but also on the behavior of patients and providers, the level of access to new tools, and the availability of treatment following diagnosis. Thus, to ensure that new diagnostic methods have the maximum impact on tuberculosis in India, it is necessary to engage the whole private health-care sector and to provide adequate referral systems, improved treatment quality, and increased resources across all health-care sectors.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information (in several languages) on all aspects of tuberculosis, including general information on tuberculosis diagnostics and specific information on the roll out of the Xpert MTB/RIF test; further information about WHO's endorsement of Xpert MTB/RIF is included in a Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Tuberculosis report; the Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 provides information about tuberculosis around the world, including in India
The Stop TB Partnership is working towards tuberculosis elimination and provides patient stories about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish); the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (a not-for-profit organization) also provides personal stories about tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis and its diagnosis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
TBC India provides information about tuberculosis control in India, including information on the RNTCP
The Initiative for Promoting Affordable and Quality TB Tests promotes WHO-endorsed TB tests in India
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4098913  PMID: 25025235
15.  A Bayesian framework for estimating the incremental value of a diagnostic test in the absence of a gold standard 
The absence of a gold standard, i.e., a diagnostic reference standard having perfect sensitivity and specificity, is a common problem in clinical practice and in diagnostic research studies. There is a need for methods to estimate the incremental value of a new, imperfect test in this context.
We use a Bayesian approach to estimate the probability of the unknown disease status via a latent class model and extend two commonly-used measures of incremental value based on predictive values [difference in the area under the ROC curve (AUC) and integrated discrimination improvement (IDI)] to the context where no gold standard exists. The methods are illustrated using simulated data and applied to the problem of estimating the incremental value of a novel interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) over the tuberculin skin test (TST) for latent tuberculosis (TB) screening. We also show how to estimate the incremental value of IGRAs when decisions are based on observed test results rather than predictive values.
We showed that the incremental value is greatest when both sensitivity and specificity of the new test are better and that conditional dependence between the tests reduces the incremental value. The incremental value of the IGRA depends on the sensitivity and specificity of the TST, as well as the prevalence of latent TB, and may thus vary in different populations.
Even in the absence of a gold standard, incremental value statistics may be estimated and can aid decisions about the practical value of a new diagnostic test.
PMCID: PMC4077291  PMID: 24886359
Area under the curve; Bayesian estimation; Incremental value; Informative priors; Integrated discrimination improvement; Imperfect diagnostic tests; Latent class models; Tuberculosis
16.  Aligning New Tuberculosis Drug Regimens and Drug Susceptibility Testing: A Needs Assessment and Roadmap for Action 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2013;13(5):449-458.
New tuberculosis drug regimens are creating new priorities for drug susceptibility testing (DST) and surveillance. To minimise turnaround time, rapid DST will need to be prioritised, but developers of these assays will need better data about the molecular mechanisms of resistance. Efforts are underway to link mutations with drug resistance and to develop strain collections to enable assessment of new diagnostic assays. In resource-limited settings, DST might not be appropriate for all patients with tuberculosis. Surveillance data and modelling will help country stakeholders to design appropriate DST algorithms and to decide whether to change drug regimens. Finally, development of practical DST assays is needed so that, in countries where surveillance and modelling show that DST is advisable, these assays can be used to guide clinical decisions for individual patients. If combined judiciously during both development and implementation, new tuberculosis regimens and new DST assays have enormous potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of disease.
PMCID: PMC4012744  PMID: 23531393
Tuberculosis; drug susceptibility testing; diagnostics; drug regimens; modeling; surveillance; implementation; operational
17.  Impact of Blood Volume, Tube Shaking, and Incubation Time on Reproducibility of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(11):3521-3526.
Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) are functional assays used serially to measure the efficacy of novel tuberculosis (TB) vaccines and to screen health care workers for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). However, studies have shown nonreproducible IGRA results. In this study, we investigated the effects of blood volume (0.8, 1.0, and 1.2 ml), tube shaking (gentle versus vigorous), and incubation duration (16, 20, and 24 h) on the reproducibility of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) results for 50 subjects (33 uninfected and 17 infected). The median IFN-γ TB response (TB antigen [Ag] minus nil value) was significantly higher with 0.8 ml blood (1.04 IU/ml) than with 1.0 ml (0.85 IU/ml; P = 0.002) or 1.2 ml (0.49 IU/ml; P < 0.001) for subjects with LTBI. Compared with 0.8 ml (11.8%), there were larger proportions of false-negative results with 1.0 ml (29.4%; P = 0.2) and 1.2 ml (41.2%; P = 0.05) of blood for infected subjects. Blood volume did not significantly change the proportions of positive results in uninfected controls. Compared with gentle shaking, vigorous shaking increased the median IFN-γ response in nil (0.04 versus 0.06 IU/ml; P < 0.001) and TB Ag (0.12 versus 0.24 IU/ml; P = 0.004) tubes and increased TB responses (TB Agvigorous minus nilgentle) (0.02 versus 0.08 IU/ml; P = 0.004). The duration of incubation did not have a significant impact on the proportion of positive results in uninfected or infected subjects. This study identified blood volume and tube shaking as novel preanalytical sources of variability which require further standardization in order to improve the quality and reproducibility of QFT-GIT results.
PMCID: PMC3889728  PMID: 23966505
18.  Do We Need to Detect Isoniazid Resistance in Addition to Rifampicin Resistance in Diagnostic Tests for Tuberculosis? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84197.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is resistant to both rifampicin (RIF) and isoniazid (INH). Whereas many TB diagnostics detect RIF-resistance, few detect INH-monoresistance, which is common and may increase risk of acquired MDR-TB. Whether inclusion of INH-resistance in a first-line rapid test for TB would have an important impact on MDR-TB rates remains uncertain.
We developed a transmission model to evaluate three tests in a population similar to that of India: a rapid molecular test for TB, the same test plus RIF-resistance detection (“TB+RIF”), and detection of RIF and INH-resistance (“TB+RIF/INH”). Our primary outcome was the prevalence of INH-resistant and MDR-TB at ten years.
Compared to the TB test alone and assuming treatment of all diagnosed MDR cases, the TB+RIF test reduced the prevalence of MDR-TB among all TB cases from 5.5% to 3.8% (30.6% reduction, 95% uncertainty range, UR: 17–54%). Despite using liberal assumptions about the impact of INH-monoresistance on treatment outcomes and MDR-TB acquisition, expansion from TB+RIF to TB+RIF/INH lowered this prevalence only from 3.8% to 3.6% further (4% reduction, 95% UR: 3–7%) and INH-monoresistant TB from 15.8% to 15.1% (4% reduction, 95% UR: (-8)-19%).
When added to a rapid test for TB plus RIF-resistance, detection of INH-resistance has minimal impact on transmission of TB, MDR-TB, and INH-monoresistant TB.
PMCID: PMC3880287  PMID: 24404155
19.  Challenges in the Development of an Immunochromatographic Interferon-Gamma Test for Diagnosis of Pleural Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85447.
Existing diagnostic tests for pleural tuberculosis (TB) have inadequate accuracy and/or turnaround time. Interferon-gamma (IFNg) has been identified in many studies as a biomarker for pleural TB. Our objective was to develop a lateral flow, immunochromatographic test (ICT) based on this biomarker and to evaluate the test in a clinical cohort. Because IFNg is commonly present in non-TB pleural effusions in low amounts, a diagnostic IFNg-threshold was first defined with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for IFNg in samples from 38 patients with a confirmed clinical diagnosis (cut-off of 300pg/ml; 94% sensitivity and 93% specificity). The ICT was then designed; however, its achievable limit of detection (5000pg/ml) was over 10-fold higher than that of the ELISA. After several iterations in development, the prototype ICT assay for IFNg had a sensitivity of 69% (95% confidence interval (CI): 50-83) and a specificity of 94% (95% CI: 81-99%) compared to ELISA on frozen samples. Evaluation of the prototype in a prospective clinical cohort (72 patients) on fresh pleural fluid samples, in comparison to a composite reference standard (including histopathological and microbiologic test results), showed that the prototype had 65% sensitivity (95% CI: 44-83) and 89% specificity (95% CI: 74-97). Discordant results were observed in 15% of samples if testing was repeated after one freezing and thawing step. Inter-rater variability was limited (3%; 1out of 32). In conclusion, despite an iterative development and optimization process, the performance of the IFNg ICT remained lower than what could be expected from the published literature on IFNg as a biomarker in pleural fluid. Further improvements in the limit of detection of an ICT for IFNg, and possibly combination of IFNg with other biomarkers such as adenosine deaminase, are necessary for such a test to be of value in the evaluation of pleural tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3871622  PMID: 24376880
20.  Incremental value of T-SPOT.TB for diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis in children in a high-burden setting: a multivariable analysis 
Thorax  2013;68(9):860-866.
Interferon γ release assays (IGRAs) are increasingly used for tuberculosis (TB) infection, but their incremental value beyond patient demographics, clinical signs and conventional tests for active disease has not been evaluated in children.
The incremental value of T-SPOT.TB was assessed in 491 smear-negative children from two hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa. Bayesian model averaging was used to select the optimal set of patient demographics and clinical signs for predicting culture-confirmed TB. The added value of T-SPOT.TB over and above patient characteristics and conventional tests was measured using statistics such as the difference in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), the net reclassification improvement (NRI) and the integrated discrimination improvement (IDI).
Cough longer than 2 weeks, fever longer than 2 weeks, night sweats, malaise, history of household contact and HIV status were the most important predictors of culture-confirmed TB. Binary T-SPOT.TB results did not have incremental value when added to the baseline model with clinical predictors, chest radiography and the tuberculin skin test. The AUC difference was 3% (95% CI 0% to 7%). Using risk cut-offs of <10%, 10–30% and >30%, the NRI was 7% (95% CI −8% to 31%) but the CI included the null value. The IDI was 3% (95% CI 0% to 11%), meaning that the average predicted probability across all possible cut-offs improved marginally by 3%.
In a high-burden setting, the T-SPOT.TB did not have added value beyond clinical data and conventional tests for diagnosis of TB disease in smear-negative children.
PMCID: PMC3862980  PMID: 23674550
Clinical Epidemiology; Tuberculosis
21.  Nutritional Status of Adult Patients with Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Rural Central India and Its Association with Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77979.
Under-nutrition is a known risk factor for TB and can adversely affect treatment outcomes. However, data from India are sparse, despite the high burden of TB as well as malnutrition in India. We assessed the nutritional status at the time of diagnosis and completion of therapy, and its association with deaths during TB treatment, in a consecutive cohort of 1695 adult patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in rural India during 2004 - 2009.Multivariable logistic regression was used to obtain adjusted estimates of the association of nutritional status with deaths during treatment. At the time of diagnosis, median BMI and body weights were 16.0 kg/m2and 42.1 kg in men, and 15.0 kg/m2and 34.1 kg in women, indicating that 80% of women and 67% of men had moderate to severe under-nutrition (BMI<17.0 kg/m2). Fifty two percent of the patients (57% of men and 48% of women) had stunting indicating chronic under-nutrition. Half of women and one third of men remained moderately to severely underweight at the end of treatment. 60 deaths occurred in 1179 patients (5%) in whom treatment was initiated. Severe under-nutrition at diagnosis was associated with a 2 fold higher risk of death. Overall, a majority of patients had evidence of chronic severe under-nutrition at diagnosis, which persisted even after successful treatment in a significant proportion of them. These findings suggest the need for nutritional support during treatment of pulmonary TB in this rural population.
PMCID: PMC3812022  PMID: 24205052
22.  Gamma Interferon Release Assay for Monitoring of Treatment Response for Active Tuberculosis: an Explosion in the Spaghetti Factory 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(2):607-610.
Few studies have correlated the results of interferon (gamma interferon) release assays (IGRAs) with known markers of tuberculosis (TB) treatment response. We report the results of serial QuantiFERON-TB gold in-tube assay (QFT) testing on 149 patients with active tuberculosis and correlate the results with smear and culture conversion. We show that QFT results do not offer much value for treatment monitoring of TB disease.
PMCID: PMC3553895  PMID: 23175268
23.  Bayesian Meta-Analysis of the Accuracy of a Test for Tuberculous Pleuritis in the Absence of a Gold Standard Reference 
Biometrics  2012;68(4):1285-1293.
Absence of a perfect reference test is an acknowledged source of bias in diagnostic studies. In the case of tuberculous pleuritis, standard reference tests such as smear microscopy, culture and biopsy have poor sensitivity. Yet meta-analyses of new tests for this disease have always assumed the reference standard is perfect, leading to biased estimates of the new test’s accuracy. We describe a method for joint meta-analysis of sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic test under evaluation, while considering the imperfect nature of the reference standard. We use a Bayesian hierarchical model that takes into account within- and between-study variability. We show how to obtain pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity, and how to plot a hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic curve. We describe extensions of the model to situations where multiple reference tests are used, and where index and reference tests are conditionally dependent. The performance of the model is evaluated using simulations and illustrated using data from a meta-analysis of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for tuberculous pleuritis. The estimate of NAAT specificity was higher and the sensitivity lower compared to a model that assumed that the reference test was perfect.
PMCID: PMC3728030  PMID: 22568612 CAMSID: cams3174
Bayesian; Bivariate model; Diagnostic test accuracy; Latent class model; Meta-analysis
25.  Predictive value of interferon-γ release assays for incident active tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2011;12(1):45-55.
We aimed to assess whether interferon-γ release assays (IGRAs) can predict the development of active tuberculosis and whether the predictive ability of these tests is better than that of the tuberculin skin test (TST).
Longitudinal studies of the predictive value for active tuberculosis of in-house or commercial IGRAs were identified through searches of PubMed, Embase, Biosis, and Web of Science and complementary manual searches up to June 30, 2011. Eligible studies included adults or children, with or without HIV, who were free of active tuberculosis at study baseline. We summarised incidence rates in forest plots and pooled data with random-effects models when appropriate. We calculated incidence rate ratios (IRR) for rates of disease progression in IGRA-positive versus IGRA-negative individuals.
15 studies had a combined sample size of 26 680 participants. Incidence of tuberculosis during a median follow-up of 4 years (IQR 2–6), even in IGRA-positive individuals, was 4–48 cases per 1000 person-years. Seven studies with no possibility of incorporation bias and reporting baseline stratification on the basis of IGRA results showed a moderate association between positive results and subsequent tuberculosis (pooled unadjusted IRR 2·10, 95% CI 1·42–3·08). Compared with test-negative results, IGRA-positive and TST-positive results were much the same with regard to the risk of tuberculosis (pooled IRR in the five studies that used both was 2·11 [95% CI 1·29–3·46] for IGRA vs 1·60 [0·94–2·72] for TST at the 10 mm cutoff). However, the proportion of IGRA-positive individuals in seven of 11 studies that assessed both IGRAs and TST was generally lower than TST-positive individuals.
Neither IGRAs nor the TST have high accuracy for the prediction of active tuberculosis, although use of IGRAs in some populations might reduce the number of people considered for preventive treatment. Until more predictive biomarkers are identified, existing tests for latent tuberculosis infection should be chosen on the basis of relative specificity in different populations, logistics, cost, and patients’ preferences rather than on predictive ability alone.
Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO), Wellcome Trust, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, UK Medical Research Council, and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.
PMCID: PMC3568693  PMID: 21846592

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