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Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2005 Sep;63(3):158-62.

Comparison of tuberculin skin test and Quantiferon immunological assay for latent tuberculosis infection.

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Lombardia Region TB Reference Clinic and Laboratory, Villa Marelli Institute, Niguarda Hospital, Milano, Italy.



Correct identification of individuals with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is a crucial element of the elimination strategy, allowing their adequate treatment. In addition to tuberculin skin test (TST), the Quantiferon test (QFT, based on whole blood gamma-interferon release) had been recently proposed. Aim of the study is to compare this test to TST for identification of LTBI in a non-selected population, in order to verify their value in identifying truly infected individuals (entitled to receive preventive chemotherapy), and to exclude from treatment those having a positive TST for other reasons (e.g. after BCG vaccination).


136 consecutive persons (78 males, mean age 34 +/- 9 years) referred to the clinic for TST were recruited (78 born in low--or middle--income countries). Based on their history, the cases were divided into 4 groups: 1) recently traced contacts of whom 18 TST negative and 28 TST positive; 2) 22 screening subjects, all TST negative; 3) BCG vaccinated subjects (14); and 4) 54 subjects already undergoing treatment of LTBI for exposure to TB.


The overall agreement between TST and QFT was 72% (64% in TST positive and 88.4% in TST negative subjects). The proportion of TST positive/QFT negative BCG vaccinated individuals was 23.1%. The K coefficient was 0.474 in recently traced contacts, 0.366 in BCG vaccinated individuals and 0.451 overall.


The study results suggest that agreement between TST and QFT is lower in TST positive than in negative subjects, being lower in individuals treated for LTBI. Quantiferon does not seem to have brought significant improvement in the diagnosis of LTBI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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