Detection and prediction of active tuberculosis disease by a whole-blood interferon-gamma release assay in HIV-1-infected individuals

Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Apr 1;48(7):954-62. doi: 10.1086/597351.


Background: The sensitivity of whole-blood interferon-gamma release assays to detect or predict active tuberculosis in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has as yet not been determined. Methods. In this prospective, longitudinal, single-center study, 830 HIV-1-infected patients underwent testing with the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) assay. Clinical screening for active tuberculosis was performed at least every 3 months for a median follow-up time of 19 months.

Results: At baseline, the QFT-GIT assay yielded positive or indeterminate results in 44 (5.3%) and 47 (5.7%) of the 830 patients, respectively. A positive QFT-GIT assay result occurred at significantly higher frequencies among black individuals than among white individuals (odds ratio, 4.84; 95% confidence interval, 2.25-9.97; P< .001), among patients from Africa than among patients from Austria (odds ratio, 6.57; 95% confidence interval, 2.99-14.25; P< .001), and among patients from high-prevalence countries than among patients from low-prevalence countries (odds ratio, 5.86; 95% confidence interval, 2.41-13.44; P< .001). In patients with indeterminate QFT-GIT assay results, both median actual and nadir CD4(+) T cell counts were significantly lower than in patients with interpretable QFT-GIT assay results (P< .001). At the time of baseline QFT-GIT screening, active tuberculosis was found in 7 (15.9%) of 44 individuals with a positive result and in 1 (0.1%) of 739 patients with a negative result. During the follow-up period, however, progression to active tuberculosis occurred exclusively in patients with a positive QFT-GIT assay result, at a rate of 8.1% (3 of 37 patients; P< .001). Collectively, the sensitivity of the QFT-GIT assay for active tuberculosis was 90.9% (95% confidence interval, 62.3%-98.4%).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the QFT-GIT assay may be a sensitive tool for the detection and prediction of active tuberculosis in HIV-1-infected individuals.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa
  • Austria
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Racial Groups
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult


  • Interferon-gamma