A three-way comparison of tuberculin skin testing, QuantiFERON-TB gold and T-SPOT.TB in children

Tom G. Connell, Nicole Ritz, Georgia A. Paxton, Jim P. Buttery, Nigel Curtis, Sarath C. Ranganathan

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158 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: There are limited data comparing the performance of the two commercially available interferon gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in children. We compared QuantiFERON-TB gold In Tube (QFT-IT), T-SPOT.TB and the tuberculin skin test (TST) in children at risk for latent TB infection or TB disease. Methods and Findings: The results of both IGRAs were compared with diagnosis assigned by TST-based criteria and assessed in relation to TB contact history. Results from the TST and at least one assay were available for 96 of 100 children. Agreement between QFT-IT and T-SPOT.TB was high (93% agreement, κ = 0.83). QFT-IT and T-SPOT.TB tests were positive in 8 (89%) and 9 (100%) children with suspected active TB disease. There was moderate agreement between TST and either QFT-IT (75%, κ = 0.50) or T-SPOT.TB (75%, κ = 0.51). Among 38 children with TST-defined latent TB infection, QFT-IT gold and T-SPOT.TB assays were positive in 47% and 39% respectively. Three TST-negative children were positive by at least one IGRA. Children with a TB contact were more likely than children without a TB contact to have a positive IGRA (QFT-IT LR 3.9; T-SPOT.TB LR 3.9) and a positive TST (LR 1.4). Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that the magnitude of both TST induration and IGRA IFN-γ responses was significantly influenced by TB contact history, but only the TST was influenced by age. Conclusions: Although a high level of agreement between the IGRAs was observed, they are commonly discordant with the TST. The correct interpretation of a negative assay in a child with a positive skin test in clinical practice remains challenging and highlights the need for longitudinal studies to determine the negative predictive value of IGRAs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2624
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume3
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

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