Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Korean J Lab Med. 2010 Aug;30(4):414-9. doi: 10.3343/kjlm.2010.30.4.414.

[Analysis of patients with positive acid-fast bacilli culture and negative T-SPOT.TB results].

[Article in Korean]

Author information

Department of Radiology, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



T-SPOT.TB is a sensitive test that detects interferon-gamma producing T-cells in tuberculosis patients following stimulation with tuberculosis-specific antigens. Our study was aimed to investigate the possible causes of false negative results of the test by analyzing the patients with positive acid-fast bacilli (AFB) culture and negative T-SPOT.TB results.


We investigated 138 patients with positive AFB culture results reported between January 2009 and April 2010. Medical records of these patients were reviewed for the results of T-SPOT.TB test, AFB culture, PCR for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB-PCR), chest X-ray, drug treatment, etc. Diagnosis of tuberculosis was confirmed by positive TB-PCR or identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Sensitivity of T-SPOT.TB test was calculated and the possible causes of AFB culture positive and T-SPOT.TB negative results were analyzed.


T-SPOT.TB test was performed in 63 of the 138 patients with AFB culture positive results. Fifty-six (88.9%) were positive and 7 patients (11.1%) were negative on T-SPOT.TB test. Of these 7 negative cases, 4 were confirmed as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), 2 were suspected as NTM and diagnosis could not be confirmed in 1. Six of these 7 patients were over 70 yr old and 6 patients had lymphocytopenia. T-SPOT.TB negative results were not observed in any of the 44 patients confirmed to have active tuberculosis (sensitivity 100%).


Our results suggest that T-SPOT.TB test is very sensitive for diagnosing active tuberculosis. NTM may be the main cause of AFB culture positive and T-SPOT.TB negative results, but MTB infection in immunocompromised patients also has to be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for The Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine
    Loading ...
    Support Center