Evaluation of a lateral flow assay-based IFN-γ release assay as a point-of-care test for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection

Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Sep;40(9):3773-3781. doi: 10.1007/s10067-021-05663-1. Epub 2021 Mar 5.


Introduction: We compared the performance of a fluorescence lateral flow assay (ichroma™ IGRA-TB) with the QuantiFERON-TB Gold PLUS (QFT-PLUS) for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID) prior to receiving biologics therapy.

Method: The comparability of the ichroma™ IGRA-TB assay with the QFT-PLUS assay for the diagnosis of LTBI was determined in prospectively enrolled patients with IMID prior to receiving biologics between August 2018 and October 2019. To determine the best cut-off value of the ichroma™ IGRA-TB, an ROC curve analysis was performed.

Results: Patients with IMID (n = 145) had inflammatory bowel disease (n = 83; 57.2%), rheumatoid arthritis (n = 44; 30.3%), or spondyloarthropathy (n = 18; 12.4%). The median age was 40.5 (interquartile range: 27.0-56.0), 72 (49.7%) were men, and 140 (96.6%) received BCG vaccination. With the manufacturer-recommended cut-off values, 11 (7.6%) and 20 (13.8%) patients showed positive results with the ichroma™ IGRA-TB and QFT-PLUS tests, respectively. The overall agreement between the two tests was 91.0% with a Cohen's kappa value of 0.535 (95% confidence interval: 0.317-0.754). ROC curve analysis of the QFT-PLUS results showed that a cut-off value of > 0.21 IU/mL would improve the performance of the ichroma™ IGRA-TB. Using the new cut-off value, the concordance rate was improved to 93.1% with a Cohen's kappa value of 0.668 (95% confidence interval: 0.478-0.858).

Conclusions: The ichroma™ IGRA-TB could be used as a point-of-care test for LTBI screening in IMID patients before starting biologics, especially in resource-limited settings. Key Points • The ichroma™ IGRA-TB is an automated fluorescence lateral flow assay-based IGRA. • The test has advantages like short turn-around time, low-cost, and ease of use. • The ichroma™ IGRA-TB showed high agreement with the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube in patients with chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases before starting biologics.

Keywords: Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases; Interferon-gamma release tests; Latent tuberculosis; Point-of-care testing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interferon-gamma Release Tests
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • ROC Curve
  • Tuberculin Test


  • Interferon-gamma