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Eur Respir J. 2010 Sep;36(3):594-600. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00171509. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

Enhanced diagnosis of HIV-1-associated tuberculosis by relating T-SPOT.TB and CD4 counts.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa.


The sensitivity of the tuberculin skin test is impaired in HIV-1-infected persons. Enzyme-linked immunospot-based detection of immune sensitisation may be less affected. Furthermore, the quantitative response can be related to the CD4 count, potentially improving specificity for active disease. The T-SPOT.TB assay was performed on HIV-1-infected participants, 85 with active tuberculosis (TB) and 81 healthy patients (non-TB). The ratio of the sum of the 6-kDa early secretory antigenic target and culture filtrate protein 10 response to the CD4 count (spot-forming cell (SFC)/CD4) was calculated. Using the manufacturer's guidelines, active TB was diagnosed with 76% sensitivity and 53% specificity. Using an SFC/CD4 ratio of 0.12, sensitivity (80%) and specificity (62%) improved. The quantitative T-cell response increased with increasing smear-positivity in the active TB group (p = 0.0008). In the non-TB group, the proportion of persons scored positive by T-SPOT.TB assay was lower in the group with a CD4 count of <200 cells·mm(-3) (p = 0.029). The ratio of the summed T-cell response to CD4 count improved the diagnostic accuracy of the T-SPOT.TB assay in HIV-1-infected persons, and a ratio of SFC/CD4 of >0.12 should prompt investigation for active disease. A strong association between the degree of sputum positivity and T-SPOT.TB score was found. The sensitivity of the T-SPOT.TB assay in active disease may be less impaired by advanced immunosuppression.

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