Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2016 Oct 27;11(10):e0165428. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165428. eCollection 2016.

Clinical and Laboratory Differences between Lymphocyte- and Neutrophil-Predominant Pleural Tuberculosis.

Author information

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.


Pleural tuberculosis (TB), a form of extrapulmonary TB, can be difficult to diagnose. High numbers of lymphocytes in pleural fluid have been considered part of the diagnostic criteria for pleural TB; however, in many cases, neutrophils rather than lymphocytes are the predominant cell type in pleural effusions, making diagnosis more complicated. Additionally, there is limited information on the clinical and laboratory characteristics of neutrophil-predominant pleural effusions caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). To investigate clinical and laboratory differences between lymphocyte- and neutrophil-predominant pleural TB, we retrospectively analyzed 200 patients with the two types of pleural TB. Of these patients, 9.5% had neutrophil-predominant pleural TB. Patients with lymphocyte-predominant and neutrophil-predominant pleural TB showed similar clinical signs and symptoms. However, neutrophil-predominant pleural TB was associated with significantly higher inflammatory serum markers, such as white blood cell count (P = 0.001) and C-reactive protein (P = 0.001). Moreover, MTB was more frequently detected in the pleural fluid from patients in the neutrophil-predominant group than the lymphocyte-predominant group, with the former group exhibiting significantly higher rates of positive results for acid-fast bacilli in sputum (36.8 versus 9.4%, P = 0.003), diagnostic yield of MTB culture (78.9% versus 22.7%, P < 0.001) and MTB detected by polymerase chain reaction (31.6% versus 5.0%, P = 0.001). Four of seven patients with repeated pleural fluid analyses revealed persistent neutrophil-predominant features, which does not support the traditional viewpoint that neutrophil-predominant pleural TB is a temporary form that rapidly develops into lymphocyte-predominant pleural TB. In conclusion, neutrophil-predominant pleural TB showed a more intense inflammatory response and a higher positive rate in microbiological testing compared to lymphocyte-predominant pleural TB. Pleural TB should be considered in neutrophil-predominant pleural effusions, and microbiological tests are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center