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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e43790. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043790. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Within-subject interlaboratory variability of QuantiFERON-TB gold in-tube tests.

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  • 1Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT) is a viable alternative to the tuberculin skin test (TST) for detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. However, within-subject variability may limit test utility. To assess variability, we compared results from the same subjects when QFT-GIT enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) were performed in different laboratories.

METHODS:

Subjects were recruited at two sites and blood was tested in three labs. Two labs used the same type of automated ELISA workstation, 8-point calibration curves, and electronic data transfer. The third lab used a different automated ELISA workstation, 4-point calibration curves, and manual data entry. Variability was assessed by interpretation agreement and comparison of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) measurements. Data for subjects with discordant interpretations or discrepancies in TB Response >0.05 IU/mL were verified or corrected, and variability was reassessed using a reconciled dataset.

RESULTS:

Ninety-seven subjects had results from three labs. Eleven (11.3%) had discordant interpretations and 72 (74.2%) had discrepancies >0.05 IU/mL using unreconciled results. After correction of manual data entry errors for 9 subjects, and exclusion of 6 subjects due to methodological errors, 7 (7.7%) subjects were discordant. Of these, 6 (85.7%) had all TB Responses within 0.25 IU/mL of the manufacturer's recommended cutoff. Non-uniform error of measurement was observed, with greater variation in higher IFN-γ measurements. Within-subject standard deviation for TB Response was as high as 0.16 IU/mL, and limits of agreement ranged from -0.46 to 0.43 IU/mL for subjects with mean TB Response within 0.25 IU/mL of the cutoff.

CONCLUSION:

Greater interlaboratory variability was associated with manual data entry and higher IFN-γ measurements. Manual data entry should be avoided. Because variability in measuring TB Response may affect interpretation, especially near the cutoff, consideration should be given to developing a range of values near the cutoff to be interpreted as "borderline," rather than negative or positive.

PMID:
22970142
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3435391
Free PMC Article

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