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Free Content Humoral response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens in patients with tuberculosis in the Gambia

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OBJECTIVE: To determine and compare the sensitivity and specificity of four common mycobacterial antigens with three RD-1 region antigens in the serological diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in the Gambia.

DESIGN: Serum from 300 Gambians (100 with active PTB, 100 of their household contacts, and 100 community controls) was tested using an ELISA method to detect antibodies to seven mycobacterial antigens (three encoded in the RD-1 region [ESAT-6, CFP-10 and Rv3871] and four common [38 kDa, GLU-S, 19 kDa and 14 kDa]). Individuals with active TB were recruited from one of the National Leprosy and TB Control Program clinics in the western region of the Gambia, and neighborhood controls were an age-matched individual living within five houses of the case.

RESULTS: The sensitivity of the RD-1 antigens ranged from 34% to 67%, while specificity ranged from 51% to 71%. The sensitivity of the common antigens ranged from 24% to 75% and specificity from 26% to 75%.

CONCLUSION: In countries with high rates of TB, such as the Gambia, the clinical utility of serological testing to diagnose active TB remains limited, even with newer antigens encoded in the RD-1 region of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
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Keywords: 38 kDa antigen; CFP-10; ESAT-6; diagnosis; serology; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara, The Gambia; and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Dakar, Senegal 2: Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara, The Gambia 3: Public Health Research Institute, Newark, New Jersey, USA 4: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Montreal Chest Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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  • 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

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