Prospective evaluation of a whole-blood test using Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10 for diagnosis of active tuberculosis

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2005 Apr;12(4):491-6. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.12.4.491-496.2005.


A new immunodiagnostic test based on the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antigens CFP-10/ESAT-6(QFT-RD1) has been launched as an aid in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI). The aim of this study was to evaluate this test for the diagnosis of active TB. Eighty-two patients with suspicion of TB and 39 healthy BCG-vaccinated persons were enrolled. Forty-eight had active TB, 25 did not, and 9 were excluded. Sensitivity and specificity of the test for active TB were evaluated in a prospective blinded manner in patients suspected of TB. The sensitivity of the QFT-RD1 was 85% (40/48; confidence interval [CI], 75 to 96), and it was higher than the sensitivity of microscopy, 42% (20/48; CI, 27 to 56; P = 0.001), and culture, 59% (27/46; CI, 44 to 73; P = 0.009). Of patients with extrapulmonary TB, 92% (12/13) were QFT-RD1 positive, whereas only 31% (4/13) were positive by microscopy and 42% (5/12) by culture (P < 0.05), and 87% (13/15) of those who were negative by both microscopy and culture were QFT-RD1 positive. By combining microscopy and culture with the QFT-RD1 test, sensitivity increased to 96% (CI, 90 to 102). Ten of 25 (40%) non-TB patients were QFT-RD1 positive, resulting in a specificity of 60%. However, 80% (8/10) of these had risk-factors for TB, indicating latent infection in this group. In healthy controls, only 3% (1/39) were QFT-RD1 positive. In conclusion, the QFT-RD1 test is sensitive for diagnosis of TB, especially in patients with negative microscopy and culture. The accuracy of the QFT-RD1 test will vary with the prevalence of LTBI. We suggest that the QFT-RD1 test could be a very useful supplementary tool for the diagnosis of TB.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial* / immunology
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Bacterial Proteins* / immunology
  • Culture Techniques
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tuberculin
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CFP-10 protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • ESAT-6 protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Tuberculin
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens