The value of serum prealbumin in the diagnosis and therapeutic response of tuberculosis: a retrospective study

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e79940. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079940. eCollection 2013.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine serum prealbumin (PA) levels in patients with tuberculosis and lung cancer, and to evaluate the correlations of serum PA levels with clinicopathological characteristics.

Method: Total 760 patients were included in the study: 320 patients with tuberculosis, 320 patients with lung cancer, and 120 healthy subjects. Serum PA was detected using a biochemical analyzer to determine the value of serum PA in the diagnosis and therapeutic response of tuberculosis.

Results: Compared to lung cancer and healthy individuals, TB patients were more frequent in suffering from low serum PA (75.0% vs.30.9% vs.6.7%,P<0.01), and the serum PA levels of TB patients were significantly reduced (137.5 ± 42.4 mg/L vs. 183.5 ± 49.1 mg/L vs. 240.0 ± 43.9 mg/L, P<0.01). Among various clinical characteristics, type (with pleuritis), age (≥ 60), ESR (>20 mm/h) and smoking status (≥ 20 pack × years) were associated with low serum PA levels of TB patients, while ECOG performance status (≥ 2) was associated with low serum PA levels of lung cancer patients. The change of serum PA levels was in accordance with the therapeutic effects of anti-TB drugs, which might present a valuable and objective indicator for monitoring the therapeutic effects of TB drugs on TB patients.

Conclusion: Low serum prealbumin levels are very common in TB patients and can be served as a potential indicator for differential diagnosis of lung cancer and monitoring the therapeutic effects of TB drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prealbumin / metabolism*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / metabolism*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Prealbumin

Grants and funding

These authors have no support or funding to report.