Comparison of Purified Protein Derivatives and Effect of Skin Testing on Results of a Commercial Gamma Interferon Assay for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Cattle

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2001 Mar;13(2):117-22. doi: 10.1177/104063870101300204.


Purified protein derivatives (PPD) prepared in the USA were compared with those prepared in Australia by a private company (CSL Veterinary) for use with a commercial gamma interferon (gamma-IFN) assay for diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis. The effect of skin testing on results of the gamma-IFN assay was determined, and results were compared when blood samples were stimulated with PPD within 2 hours and after 24 hours of sample collection. Twenty cattle that were sensitized by subcutaneous injection of heat-killed Mycobacterium bovis were randomly divided into 3 groups. Cattle in group A were tested with the caudal fold skin test (CFT) on day 0 and the comparative cervical skin test (CCT) on day 7. Cattle in group B were tested with the CFT on day 0 and the CCT on day 63, and group C cattle were not skin tested. Blood samples for the gamma-IFN assay were collected at various times throughout the study period. Optical density (OD) values for the gamma-IFN assay were not significantly different when blood samples were stimulated with US avian PPD and CSL avian PPD. However, OD values were significantly higher for US bovine PPD than for CSL bovine PPD. However, the final interpretation of the gamma-IFN assay was usually the same when using either US or CSL PPD. In addition, OD values for the gamma-IFN assay were significantly higher for blood samples collected after sensitized cattle were skin tested than for samples collected from the same cattle before skin testing or from cattle not skin tested. The OD values for blood samples stimulated within 2 hours of sample collection were significantly higher than for samples stimulated 24 hours after sample collection. However, OD values for all PPD-stimulated samples from sensitized cattle were significantly higher in samples collected 3 days after skin testing and stimulated 24 hours after collection than for samples from the same animals collected before skin testing and stimulated within 2 hours of sample collection. Results of this study indicate that PPD prepared in the USA or Australia can be used to stimulate blood samples for the gamma-IFN assay. Skin testing cattle prior to collection of blood for the gamma-IFN assay boosts production of gamma-IFN by lymphocytes from cattle that have had prior exposure to M. bovis antigens. Use of the gamma-IFN assay in conjunction with skin testing may improve detection of cattle infected with M. bovis. In addition, the increase in production of gamma-IFN after skin testing will permit greater flexibility in conducting the assay because samples can be stimulated after they have been shipped overnight rather than only on the day of sample collection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / blood
  • Antigens, Bacterial / isolation & purification*
  • Cattle
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium bovis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / isolation & purification
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Random Allocation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculin Test / standards
  • Tuberculin Test / veterinary*
  • Tuberculin* / administration & dosage
  • Tuberculin* / blood
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / diagnosis*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Tuberculin
  • Interferon-gamma