The role of antibodies in tuberculosis diagnosis, prophylaxis and therapy: a review from the ESGMYC study group

Eur Respir Rev. 2022 Mar 9;31(163):210218. doi: 10.1183/16000617.0218-2021. Print 2022 Mar 31.


Tuberculosis (TB) is still responsible for the deaths of >1 million people yearly worldwide, and therefore its correct diagnosis is one of the key components of any TB eradication programme. However, current TB diagnostic tests have many limitations, and improved diagnostic accuracy is urgently needed. To improve the diagnostic performance of traditional serology, a combination of different Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) antigens and different antibody isotypes has been suggested, with some showing promising performance for the diagnosis of active TB. Given the incomplete protection conferred by bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination against adult pulmonary TB, efforts to discover novel TB vaccines are ongoing. Efficacy studies from advanced TB vaccines designed to stimulate cell-mediated immunity failed to show protection, suggesting that they may not be sufficient and warranting the need for other types of immunity. The role of antibodies as tools for TB therapy, TB diagnosis and TB vaccine design is discussed. Finally, we propose that the inclusion of antibody-based TB vaccines in current clinical trials may be advisable to improve protection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis*
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines*
  • Tuberculosis* / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis* / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis* / prevention & control
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / prevention & control


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines