Observational study of QuantiFERON®-TB gold in-tube assay in tuberculosis contacts in a low incidence area

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043520. Epub 2012 Aug 24.


Background: QuantiFERON®-TB Gold in-Tube (QFT) assay is a recently developed test to assess latent tuberculosis infection in contagious tuberculosis (TB) contact subjects. To assess the QFT assay in recently exposed contacts of active tuberculosis patients in a French area with low TB incidence but high Bacille Calmette-Guerin coverage, and evaluate progression rates to TB disease.

Methodology/principal findings: Between January 2007 and December 2009, 687 contacts of culture-confirmed tuberculosis cases underwent the QFT assay, with tuberculin skin test (TST) in 473, and a 34 months mean follow-up. Of 687 contacts, 148 were QFT positive, while 526 were negative and 13 indeterminate. QFT was positive in 35% of individuals with TST ≥ 10 mm, 47.5% with TST ≥ 15 mm or phlyctenular, but in 21% of cases in which two-step TST (M0 and M3) remained negative. Conversely, QFT was negative in 69% of cases with two-step TST showing conversion from negative to positive. All indeterminate QFT were associated with TST induration <10 mm in diameter. For 29 QFT-positive subjects, no chemoprophylaxis was given due to medical contraindications. Of the remaining 119 QFT-positive contacts, 97 accepted chemoprophylaxis (81.5%), and 79 (81.4%) completed the treatment. Two contacts progressed to TB disease: one subject was QFT positive and had declined chemoprophylaxis, while the other one was QFT negative. QFT positive predictive value for progression to TB was 1.96% (1/51) with a 99.8% (525/526) negative predictive value.

Conclusions/significance: Our results confirm the safety of the QFT-based strategy for assessing the TB chemoprophylaxis indication, as only one contact developed TB disease out of 526 QFT-negative subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tuberculin Test / methods*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The Regional Health Authority (DRASS) and Centre de Prévention des Maladies Infectieuses (CPMI). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.