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J Infect. 2009 Dec;59(6):409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2009.09.006. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis by T-cell-based assays on peripheral blood and peritoneal fluid mononuclear cells.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388-1 Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 138-736, Republic of Korea.



Diagnosing abdominal tuberculosis (TB) remains a challenge. A recently developed RD-1 gene-based assay for diagnosing tuberculosis infection shows promising results. We evaluated the diagnostic usefulness of this assay compared with conventional tests in patients with suspected abdominal TB in clinical practice.


All patients with suspected abdominal TB were prospectively enrolled in a tertiary hospital during a 1-year period. In addition to the conventional tests for diagnosing TB, the IFN-gamma-producing T-cell response to ESAT-6 and CFP-10 by ELISPOT assay using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and peritoneal fluid mononuclear cells (PF-MC) were performed.


Forty eight patients with suspected abdominal TB were enrolled. Of these patients, 30 (63%) were classified as abdominal TB including 14 TB peritonitis (12 confirmed + 1 probable + 1 possible), 6 abdominal TB lymphadenitis (3 confirmed + 3 probable), 4 hepatic TB (3 confirmed + 1 possible), 2 intestinal TB (1 confirmed + 1 probable), 3 renal TB (1 confirmed + 2 probable), and 1 pancreatic TB (1 confirmed). Eighteen (38%) were classified as not TB. ELISPOT assay using PBMC was performed on samples from all 48 subjects. The sensitivity and specificity of the PBMC ELISPOT assay were 89% (95% CI, 71-98%) and 78% (95% CI, 52-94%), respectively. In the 11 patients in whom PF-MC ELISPOT assay was performed, it was positive in 5 of 6 patients with TB peritonitis, and negative in all 5 patients with not TB.


The ELISPOT assay using PBMC and PF-MC is a useful adjunct to the current tests for diagnosing abdominal TB.

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