Although the tuberculin test has aided in the diagnosis of tuberculosis for more than 85 years, its interpretation is difficult particularly because sensitization with non-tuberculous mycobacteria leads to false positive tests. Using the guinea pig model of tuberculosis, we have recently described a recombinant antigen (DPPD) that could circumvent this problem. The DPPD gene is unique to the M. tuberculosis complex organisms and is absent in the organisms representative of all other members of the Mycobacterium genus. Moreover, DPPD induced strong DTH in 100% of the guinea pigs infected with M. tuberculosis and in none of the guinea pigs immunized with nine different species of Mycobacterium. Here we present results of a clinical investigation using DPPD. Mantoux test using both PPD and DPPD was initially performed in 26 patients with confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis and in 25 healthy PPD negative individuals. The results indicated that both PPD and DPPD elicited DTH in 24 out of the 26 patients. No DTH was observed in any of the PPD negative individuals. In addition, a small clinical trial was performed in a population of 270 clinically healthy and randomly selected individuals. DPPD produced a bimodal histogram of skin reaction size and PPD produced a skewed histogram. Because the DPPD gene is not present in non-tuberculous bacilli, these results suggest that this molecule can be an additional tool for a more specific diagnosis of tuberculosis.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.