Rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis by detection of mycobacterial lipoarabinomannan in urine

J Microbiol Methods. 2001 May;45(1):41-52. doi: 10.1016/s0167-7012(01)00239-1.


There is an urgent need for improved tools for laboratory diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB). Here, we describe two methods, a catch-up ELISA and a dipstick test based on the detection in urine of lipoarabinomannan (LAM). LAM is a major and specific glycolipid component of the outer mycobacterial cell wall. Preliminary experiments showed that LAM is excreted in the urine of mice injected intraperitoneally with a crude cell wall preparation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Both methods were highly sensitive, detecting LAM at concentrations of 1 ng/ml and 5 pg/ml, respectively. Of 15 patients with active TB, all showed intermediate to high levels of LAM in their urine (absorbance values from 0.3 to 1.2, mean 0.74). Only one sample showed an absorbance value below the chosen cut off value of 0.4. All but one of the urine samples from 26 healthy nursing workers exhibited OD value below 0.4 cut off. These methods may prove valuable for rapid and simple diagnosis of TB in particular in developing countries lacking biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination Tests
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigens, Bacterial / urine
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / isolation & purification
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / urine*
  • Mice
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Reagent Strips
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis / urine*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Reagent Strips
  • lipoarabinomannan