Updated guidelines for using Interferon Gamma Release Assays to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection - United States, 2010

MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010 Jun 25;59(RR-5):1-25.


n 2005, CDC published guidelines for using the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test (QFT-G) (Cellestis Limited, Carnegie, Victoria, Australia) (CDC. Guidelines for using the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test for detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, United States. MMWR;54[No. RR-15]:49-55). Subsequently, two new interferon gamma (IFN- gamma) release assays (IGRAs) were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as aids in diagnosing M. tuberculosis infection, both latent infection and infection manifesting as active tuberculosis. These tests are the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT) (Cellestis Limited, Carnegie, Victoria, Australia) and the T-SPOT.TB test (T-Spot) (Oxford Immunotec Limited, Abingdon, United Kingdom). The antigens, methods, and interpretation criteria for these assays differ from those for IGRAs approved previously by FDA. For assistance in developing recommendations related to IGRA use, CDC convened a group of experts to review the scientific evidence and provide opinions regarding use of IGRAs. Data submitted to FDA, published reports, and expert opinion related to IGRAs were used in preparing these guidelines. Results of studies examining sensitivity, specificity, and agreement for IGRAs and TST vary with respect to which test is better. Although data on the accuracy of IGRAs and their ability to predict subsequent active tuberculosis are limited, to date, no major deficiencies have been reported in studies involving various populations. This report provides guidance to U.S. public health officials, health-care providers, and laboratory workers for use of FDA-approved IGRAs in the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection in adults and children. In brief, TSTs and IGRAs (QFT-G, QFT-GIT, and T-Spot) may be used as aids in diagnosing M. tuberculosis infection. They may be used for surveillance purposes and to identify persons likely to benefit from treatment. Multiple additional recommendations are provided that address quality control, test selection, and medical management after testing. Although substantial progress has been made in documenting the utility of IGRAs, additional research is needed that focuses on the value and limitations of IGRAs in situations of importance to medical care or tuberculosis control. Specific areas needing additional research are listed.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Interferon-gamma