Skip to main content

Free Content Evaluation of the polymerase chain reaction for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis [Technical Note]

Download Article:
(PDF 69.8876953125 kb)


The development of nucleic acid-based technologies has improved the sensitivity, specificity and speed of detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in clinical samples. Both commercially available and ‘in-house’ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) systems are in use, and a significant number of reports compare such systems with more traditional diagnostic tools for tuberculosis. Few studies, however, have focused on the reproducibility of the results when submitting a sample batch to PCR in different laboratories, especially in developing countries. Consequently, PCR results obtained from six laboratories in six different Latin American countries for samples reconstituted with defined amounts of M. tuberculosis cells were evaluated. Each laboratory used specific conditions of sample processing, nucleic acid amplification and amplicon detection. Analysis of results allowed large differences in sensitivity and specificity to be observed. We conclude that in its present setting, in-house PCR cannot be used as a single diagnostic tool for tuberculosis, and that special care needs to be taken upon interpretation of results by inclusion of a proper number of positive and negative controls.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; PCR; tuberculosis

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, Laboratório de Diagnóstico de Doenças Infecciosas, FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 3: Departamento de Microbiologia, Imunologia e Parasitologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Escola Paulista de Medicina, São Paulo, Brazil 4: Departamento de Inmunología, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, UNAM, Mexico DF, Mexico 5: Instituto de Biotecnología, CICV/INTA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 6: Seccion Micobacterias y Unidad de Biología Molecular, Instituto de Salud Pública de Chile, Santiago, Chile 7: Corporación para Investigaciones Biológicas, Medellín, Colombia

Publication date: 2000-02-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
  • Public Health Action
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more