Background: Recent interferon gamma (IFN-γ)-based studies have identified novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection phase-dependent antigens as diagnostic candidates. In this study, the levels of 11 host markers other than IFN-γ, were evaluated in whole blood culture supernatants after stimulation with M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens, for the diagnosis of TB disease.
Methodology and principal findings: Five M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens, comprising of three DosR-regulon-encoded proteins (Rv2032, Rv0081, Rv1737c), and two resucitation promoting factors (Rv0867c and Rv2389c), were evaluated in a case-control study with 15 pulmonary TB patients and 15 household contacts that were recruited from a high TB incidence setting in Cape Town, South Africa. After a 7-day whole blood culture, supernatants were harvested and the levels of the host markers evaluated using the Luminex platform. Multiple antigen-specific host markers were identified with promising diagnostic potential. Rv0081-specific levels of IL-12(p40), IP-10, IL-10 and TNF-α were the most promising diagnostic candidates, each ascertaining TB disease with an accuracy of 100%, 95% confidence interval for the area under the receiver operating characteristics plots, (1.0 to 1.0).
Conclusions: Multiple cytokines other than IFN-γ in whole blood culture supernatants after stimulation with M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens show promise as diagnostic markers for active TB. These preliminary findings should be verified in well-designed diagnostic studies employing short-term culture assays.