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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2004 Jul;100(1-2):61-71.

TB diagnosis in non-human primates: comparison of two interferon-gamma assays and the skin test for identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

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Department of Parasitology, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, P.O. Box 3306, 2280GH Rijswijk, The Netherlands.


In general non-human primates are highly susceptible to infections with Mycobacterium tuberculosis which therefore presents an explosive health threat to colonies. To screen for M. tuberculosis infections in non-human primates, the skin test is routinely used. However, the reliability of this test in primates is debatable. The aim of this study was to compare relatively easy in vitro diagnostic tests for TB with the skin test for detection of a tuberculosis (TB) infection. Two in vitro assays, a whole blood interferon-gamma (WB IFN-gamma) assay and in vitro stimulation of isolated lymphocytes (PBMC IFN-gamma) were evaluated during both experimental TB infections in macaques as well as during an outbreak of TB in a macaque quarantine facility. The WB IFN-gamma assay was also evaluated on healthy old and new world monkeys. Our results show that both in vitro assays detected TB infection in macaques. All experimentally infected animals showed TB-specific responses in both assays. In contrast, several TB animals were not diagnosed TB positive using the skin test. In addition, during the outbreak in the quarantine facility one animal was not detected using the routinely used skin test, but it showed strong positive responses in the WB assay. In conclusion, the in vitro assays are a valuable tool for screening non-human primates for TB infection, especially because the assays cause relatively less stress for the animals compared to the skin test and give reproducible and reliable results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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