Comparison of mantoux skin test with three generations of a whole blood IFN-gamma assay for tuberculosis infection

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2006 Mar;10(3):310-6.


Setting: A rural town in South Africa.

Objective: To compare the performance of Quanti-FERON assays with the tuberculin skin test (TST) for identifying latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in a high TB burden community.

Design: In a cross-sectional study in healthy adults, we applied the TST and took blood for the three generations of QuantiFERON assays.

Results: Of 358 participants whose results were analysed, 291 (81%) had a TST result of > or = 10 mm induration, and 187 (52%) > or = 15 mm. QuantiFERON-TB was positive in 215 (60%), QuantiFERON-TB Gold in 137 (38%), and QuantiFERON-TB Gold (In-Tube method) in 201 (56%). There was poor agreement between TST and QuantiFERON tests, and between the different generations of QuantiFERON tests (kappa = 0.12-0.50). Of the subset with TST indurations > or = 15 mm, 30-56% had negative QuantiFERON tests. However, positive Quanti-FERON tests were associated with males, who have a higher incidence of TB in this area.

Conclusion: We showed poor agreement between TST and the different QuantiFERON tests in diagnosing LTBI. The surprising discordance between the Quanti-FERON TB Gold and QuantiFERON TB Gold (In-Tube method) tests needs to be investigated further.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tuberculin Test*
  • Tuberculosis / blood*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Interferon-gamma