Performance of the Interferon Gamma Release Assays in Tuberculosis Disease in Children Five Years Old or Less

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 7;10(12):e0143820. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143820. eCollection 2015.


Interferon Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs) were developed for the indirect or immunologic diagnosis of tuberculosis infection; however, they have also been used to assist in difficult to diagnose cases of tuberculosis disease in adults, and to a lesser extent, in children, especially in those under 5 years old. We evaluated the utility of using an IGRA in pediatric tuberculosis in younger children in a hospital setting. The diagnostic accuracy of T-SPOT.TB and TST was assessed in 117 children with active tuberculosis and 413 children with respiratory tract infection. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for the tests used individually and together. Concordance was also calculated. Sensitivity of T-SPOT.TB (82.9%) was higher than TST (78.6% using a 5mm cut-off), especially in children confirmed to have TB. T-SPOT.TB was more specific than TST using a 5mm cut-off (96.1% vs. 70.9%). Combining T-SPOT.TB and TST results improved the sensitivity to 96.6%. In conclusion, the results of the current study indicate that T-SPOT.TB has good sensitivity and specificity, supporting its use among patients of this age. A combination of IGRA and TST would be useful additions to assist in the diagnosis of childhood TB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma Release Tests / methods*
  • Male
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*

Grant support

This work was supported by National Science and Technology Major Project of China (2013ZX10003003-004), National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 81200064) and Collaborative Innovation Center of Infectious Diseases (no. PXM2014_014226_000011).