Evaluation of the tuberculosis culture color plate test for rapid detection of drug susceptible and drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a resource-limited setting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

PLoS One. 2019 May 28;14(5):e0215679. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215679. eCollection 2019.


Timely diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) is limited in Ethiopia. We evaluated the performance of a low technology, thin layer agar, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) culture color plate (TB-CX) test with concurrent drug susceptibility testing (DST) to isoniazid (INH), rifampin (RIF), and pyrazinamide (PZA) directly from sputum specimens. Patients undergoing examination for TB and multidrug-resistant (MDR)-TB were enrolled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from March 2016 to February 2017. All subjects received a GeneXpert MTB/RIF PCR test. TB-CX test results were compared to reference Löwenstein-Jensen (LJ) culture for M.tb detection and DST for susceptibility to INH and RIF. Kappa statistic was applied to test agreement between results for TB-CX test and the reference methods, a cut-off Kappa value of 0.75 was considered as high level of agreements. A total of 137 participants were analyzed: 88 (64%) were new TB cases, 49 (36%) were re-treatment cases. The TB-CX test detected M.tb and DST in an average of 13 days compared to 50 days for the conventional DST result. The sensitivity and specificity of the TB-CX test for detecting M.tb were 94% and 98%, respectively (concordance, 96%; kappa 0.91). The sensitivity of the TB-CX test to detect drug resistance to INH, RIF, and MDR-TB was 91%, 100%, and 90% respectively. The specificity of the TB-CX test for detecting INH, RIF, and MDR-TB was 94%, 40%, and 94% respectively. Overall agreement between TB-CX test and LJ DST for detection of MDR-TB was 93%. The TB-CX test showed strong agreement with the GeneXpert test for detecting M.tb (89%, kappa 0.76) but low agreement for the detection of RIF resistance (57%, kappa 0.28). The TB-CX test was found to be a good alternative method for screening of TB and selective drug resistant-TB in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Color
  • Culture Techniques*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Health Resources / supply & distribution*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / economics*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / growth & development
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antitubercular Agents