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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 Nov;11(6):1022-7.

Use of antibodies in lymphocyte secretions for detection of subclinical tuberculosis infection in asymptomatic contacts.

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ICDDR,B-Centre for Health and Population Research, National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


We have previously demonstrated that Mycobacterium bovis BCG-specific immunoglobulin G antibodies in lymphocyte secretions (ALS) can be employed as a marker for active tuberculosis (TB). We aimed to determine whether the ALS method allows detection of subclinical TB infection in asymptomatic individuals. A prospective study of family contacts (FCs) of patients with active TB and healthy controls was performed. Thirteen of 42 FCs had high ALS responses, including 6 FCs who subsequently developed active TB. No correlation was observed between the tuberculin skin test and the ALS responses in the FCs (r = 0.1, P = 0.23). Among patients with active TB, BCG-specific ALS responses steadily declined from the time of diagnosis through 6 months following antimycobacterial chemotherapy (P = 0.001). The ALS assay enabled detection of infection in exposed symptom-free contacts, who are at greater risk for developing active TB. The method may also allow discrimination between effective treatment of active infection and suboptimal response to therapy.

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