2010 Volume 49 Issue 17 Pages 1849-1855
Objective This study evaluated the effect of peripheral lymphocyte count on 2 interferon-gamma release assays [QuantiFERON TB-Gold (QFT-G) and enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT)] and their sensitivity in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, including HIV-negative immunocompromised patients.
Patients and Methods Two hundred thirty patients with microbiologically confirmed active pulmonary tuberculosis were subjected to the tests. Lymphocyte counts were analyzed simultaneously.
Results Overall sensitivity was 74% (159/215; 95% CI, 68-80%) for QFT-G and 92% (198/215; 89-96%) for ELISPOT (p<0.0001). In patients with peripheral lymphocyte counts of ≥1000/μL, sensitivity was high for both QFT-G (88%, 111/126; 82-94%) and ELISPOT (97%, 122/126; 94-100%). However, the sensitivity decreased significantly with decreasing peripheral lymphocyte count for both QFT-G (test for trend p<0.0001) and ELISPOT (test for trend p=0.007). When lymphocyte counts were <500/μL, the sensitivity was 81% (25/31; 66-96%) for ELISPOT, but only 39% (12/31; 21-57%) for QFT-G.
Conclusion Both QFT-G and ELISPOT are sensitive methods for detecting active pulmonary tuberculosis, but their sensitivity partly depends on peripheral lymphocyte counts. At low lymphocyte count conditions, ELISPOT is superior to QFT-G for detecting tuberculosis, irrespective of age, gender, and nutrition.