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Indian J Med Res. 2006 Jul;124(1):81-8.

Protein antigen b (Pab) based PCR test in diagnosis of pulmonary and extra-pulmonary tuberculosis.

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  • 1National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi, India.



Diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) is largely based on microscopy and culture examination which are either less sensitive, or time consuming. In the present study a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test based on DNA sequence coding for a 38-kilodalton protein antigen b (Pab) ,specific for Mycobacterium tuberculosis was compared with Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) stained AFB (acid fast bacilli) smear examination, culture based on conventional Lowenstein-Jensen (LJ) medium and radiometric BACTEC 460 system for the diagnosis of TB using clinical samples obtained from pulmonary and extra-pulmonary cases of TB.


Clinical samples obtained from 168 patients of suspected TB (pulmonary and extrapulmonary) were subjected to ZN smear examination, LJ culture, radiometric BACTEC culture and a PCR test by amplifying 419 bp sequence coding for Pab, a glycoprotein of molecular weight 38 kDa.


A significant difference was seen in the sensitivity of different tests, the figures being 74.2 per cent for PCR test, 53.4 per cent for BACTEC culture, 47.1 per cent for LJ medium based culture and 35.2 per cent for ZN smear examination (P<0.05). However, there was no significant difference between different tests as far as specificity was concerned. PCR test sensitivity in pulmonary and extra-pulmonary clinical samples were 74.3 and 71.5 per cent respectively, being significantly higher (P<0.05) when compared with sensitivity of other tests. The mean detection time for M. tuberculosis was 24.0 days by LJ media culture, 12.8 days by BACTEC culture and less than 1 day by smear examination and PCR test.


PCR test is more sensitive than ZN smear examination, LJ medium culture and BACTEC culture for diagnosing TB in pulmonary and extra-pulmonary clinical samples.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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