The evaluation of whole blood cytokine assay for diagnosis of M.tuberculosis infection in South African children with household tuberculosis contact.

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Masilo, J. M.
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Vaal University of Technology
Background: There are critical unmet needs for improved strategies in the detection and diagnosis of M.tuberculosis infection in children, and for prevention of tuberculosis disease in children. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination has limited the utility of tuberculin skin testing (TST) in areas with high vaccine coverage. Objectives: The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of M.tuberculosis infection in children with household tuberculosis contacts, using QFT-GIT testing in comparison with TST. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional design to assess the performance of a new T-cell based blood test, namely QuantiFERON-TB Gold In Tube (QFT-GIT), for diagnosis of tuberculosis infection in the children (n=182) of adults (n=124) with pulmonary tuberculosis, additionally to determine the prevalence of M.tuberculosis infection in children with household tuberculosis contacts, using QFT-GIT testing in comparison with TST. The study was carried out at Chris Hani Hospital. For children involved in the study, tuberculosis exposure information was obtained, together with TST, QFT-GIT, and HIV testing. Data obtained from both experiments was statistically analysed using SPSS version 24 to determine whether there was a significant agreement between QFT-GIT and TST on the detection of M.tuberculosis prevalence in children with house hold contacts with confirmed M.tuberculosis infection. Results: This study examined the sensitivity and specificity of the QFT-GIT tests compared with the standard TST for diagnosing latent tuberculosis disease in paediatric contacts. Because of the lack of a latent tuberculosis “gold standard”, the specificity and sensitivity of QFT-GIT was calculated with a two-by-two table method. The specificity of the QFT-GIT was 84% and the sensitivity was 85%. There was a good correlation between QFT-GIT and TST (Cohen’s kappa of 0.705). Seventeen percent (17%) of the 182 children tested by QFT-GIT yielded indeterminate results. Age was associated with indeterminate QFT-GIT results in paediatric tuberculosis contacts. Point prevalence for QFT-GIT was recorded as 31% at baseline and 39.5% after six months indicating variability between QFT-GIT results at baseline and after six months. Conclusion: It was concluded that the prevalence of tuberculosis infection was common among South African children who live with an adult with active tuberculosis. The agreement between QFT-GIT assay and TST for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis in children was high. Although TST and QFT-GIT assays appeared comparable, QFT-GIT showed higher positivity rate amongst those contacts with reported household tuberculosis exposure compared to TST. The QFTGIT assay was a better indicator of the risk of M.tuberculosis infection than TST in a BCG-vaccinated population.
M. Tech. (Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
M.tuberculosis infection in children, Blood cytokine assay, Prevention of tuberculosis disease in children, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), QFT-GIT assay, TST