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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2009 Feb;16(2):260-76. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00355-08. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Performance of purified antigens for serodiagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis: a meta-analysis.

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Francis J. Curry National Tuberculosis Center, University of California, San Francisco, 3180 18th Street, Suite 101, San Francisco, CA 94110-2028, USA.


Serological antibody detection tests for tuberculosis may offer the potential to improve diagnosis. Recent meta-analyses have shown that commercially available tests have variable accuracies and a limited clinical role. We reviewed the immunodiagnostic potential of antigens evaluated in research laboratories (in-house) for the serodiagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis and conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the performance of comparable antigens. Selection criteria included the participation of at least 25 pulmonary tuberculosis patients and the use of purified antigens. Studies evaluating 38 kDa, MPT51, malate synthase, culture filtrate protein 10, TbF6, antigen 85B, alpha-crystallin, 2,3-diacyltrehalose, 2,3,6-triacyltrehalose, 2,3,6,6'-tetraacyltrehalose 2'-sulfate, cord factor, and TbF6 plus DPEP (multiple antigen) were included in the meta-analysis. The results demonstrated that (i) in sputum smear-positive patients, sensitivities significantly >or=50% were provided for recombinant malate synthase (73%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 58 to 85) and TbF6 plus DPEP (75%; 95% CI, 50 to 91); (ii) protein antigens achieved high specificities; (iii) among the lipid antigens, cord factor had the best overall performance (sensitivity, 69% [95% CI, 28 to 94]; specificity, 91% [95% CI, 78 to 97]); (iv) compared with the sensitivities achieved with single antigens (median sensitivity, 53%; range, 2% to 100%), multiple antigens yielded higher sensitivities (median sensitivity, 76%; range, 16% to 96%); (v) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients who are sputum smear positive, antibodies to several single and multiple antigens were detected; and (vi) data on seroreactivity to antigens in sputum smear-negative or pediatric patients were insufficient. Potential candidate antigens for an antibody detection test for pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-infected and -uninfected patients have been identified, although no antigen achieves sufficient sensitivity to replace sputum smear microscopy. Combinations of select antigens provide higher sensitivities than single antigens. The use of a case-control design with healthy controls for the majority of studies was a limitation of the review. Efforts are needed to improve the methodological quality of tuberculosis diagnostic studies.

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