Enabling biomarkers for tuberculosis control

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2012 Sep;16(9):1140-8. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.12.0246.


Accelerated control of tuberculosis (TB) requires better control measures. Biomarkers, which reliably diagnose active TB or even predict risk of disease progression in individuals, could facilitate rapid diagnosis and treatment of TB patients and allow preventive measures for latently infected individuals with a high risk of TB. Moreover, biomarkers could speed up clinical trials with novel drug and vaccine candidates. Three platforms of global biomarker profiling will be described, with an emphasis on the most recent achievements: transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Moreover, we will discuss the need for computational analyses to make the best use of the plethora of data generated by biomarker research. Aside from their potential prognostic and diagnostic value, biomarkers could provide deeper insight into pathological processes underlying disease, and hence form the basis for novel intervention measures that target host molecules and pathways. We propose that biosignatures, which discriminate active TB from both latent infection and uninfected status, as well as from other diseases, will become available within the next decade. However, simple, low-cost biomarker-based point-of-care diagnosis will probably not be achieved in the next few years.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Computational Biology* / methods
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Proteomics
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / genetics
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines / therapeutic use


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines