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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2004 Aug;99(5):517-24. Epub 2004 Nov 3.

Study of the antibody response against Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens in Warao Amerindian children in Venezuela.

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Cátedra de Immunología, Escuela de Medicina José María Vargas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Apartado 4043, Caracas 1010A, Venezuela.


This study was aimed at investigating alternate methods for serodiagnosis of tuberculosis (TB), which are needed because bacteriologic diagnosis of childhood TB is difficult. A selection of 80 serum and saliva samples were tested from Warao indigenous children under 15 years of age; 34 high TB suspects (28 positive and 6 negative for the tuberculin skin test, TST) and 46 healthy contact children (32 positive and 14 negative for the TST). Several enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) serological tests were developed to test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antibodies, including serum IgA, IgG, IgE, and secretory IgA (sIgA) in saliva against 3 specific antigens (PPD, HSP60, 38 kDa). Of these, 2 antigens, PPD and 38 kDa, showed significantly higher reactivity. The sensitivity and specificity of these tests for diagnosis remained limited, between 26.5% and 38.2%, and 77.4% and 97%, respectively. Of all the samples studied and combinations realized between all isotypes and antigens combined with 3 isotypes (anti-PPD IgG, IgE, and anti-38kDa sIgA) managed to detect the largest number of patients, showing an improved sensitivity level of 64.7%, although specificity levels dropped to 81.8%. These results were compared with the Omega diagnostics commercial kit results. The commercial kits showed significantly lower reactivity (sensitivity of 20% and 13.33% to Myco G and Complex Plus, respectively) and a specificity of 100%. This study shows that in indigenous populations of Venezuela, where invasive procedures cannot be used to select samples but evaluation with a chest X-ray for radiological studies is available, the combination of 3 specific isotypes may be a useful tool to increase diagnostic accuracy with pulmonary TB in this population, when used together with clinical and epidemiological criteria.

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