Routine hospital use of a new commercial whole blood interferon-gamma assay for the diagnosis of tuberculosis infection

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Sep 1;172(5):631-5. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200502-196OC. Epub 2005 Jun 16.


Rationale: Interferon (IFN)-gamma blood tests may improve the current level of diagnostic accuracy for tuberculosis infection. The QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-Gold) has been used in selected populations and shows higher specificity than the tuberculin skin test (TST).

Objective: To evaluate the QFT-Gold test in unselected patients and assess the level of agreement with the TST.

Methods: The test has been routinely performed on whole blood samples in our microbiology laboratory for 8 months. Demographic, clinical, and microbiological data have been collected and correlated to the QFT-Gold results.

Measurements and main results: Of 318 patients tested, 68 (21.4%) gave an indeterminate (low positive mitogen control) QFT-Gold result. Indeterminate results were significantly overrepresented in patients with a negative TST (28.9% vs. 6.6% in TST-positive patients; p < 0.0001, chi2 test) and were more frequent in patients receiving immunosuppressive therapies than in those who were not receiving such treatments (odds ratio, 3.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.84-6.08; p < 0.0001). After excluding indeterminate results, the concordance between QFT-Gold and TST was significantly lower in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated individuals (41.5%) than in nonvaccinated individuals (80.3%) (p < 0.0001). In 11 patients with active tuberculosis (5 culture-confirmed), QFT-Gold provided more positive results than the TST (66.7% vs. 33.3%; p = 0.165).

Conclusions: The QFT-Gold test is feasible in routine hospital use for the diagnosis of tuberculosis infection. As with the TST, immunosuppression may negatively affect the test's performance, with a significant rate of indeterminate results in the most vulnerable population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Tests
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*


  • Interferon-gamma