Humoral response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antigens in African tuberculosis patients with high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus infection

Tuber Lung Dis. 1995 Apr;76(2):149-55. doi: 10.1016/0962-8479(95)90558-8.


Setting: The applicability of serodiagnosis of tuberculosis using Mycobacterium tuberculosis-complex-specific antigens in a Tanzanian population with high prevalence of HIV.

Objective: This study was performed to evaluate the usefulness, sensitivity and specificity of serology using M. tuberculosis-specific antigens in the diagnosis of tuberculosis in patients with and without HIV co-infection.

Design: Patients with proven pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis at a major referral centre in Tanzania were enrolled in the study. The control group consisted of patients without a history of previous tuberculosis admitted to the trauma ward and of healthy volunteers. Sera were analysed by an enzyme linked immunoassay (ELISA) using two M. tuberculosis specific proteins as antigen: the 38 kDa protein [3T] and a 17 kDa protein. In addition was recorded presence or absence of BCG scar and tuberculin sensitivity and the sera were tested for HIV and analysed for beta-2-microglobulin content.

Result: Sensitivity and specificity were markedly reduced in tuberculosis patients with HIV co-infection compared to patients without this disease (73% and 70% versus 52% and 50% respectively).

Conclusion: Serology for diagnosis of tuberculosis is not feasible in an HIV endemic region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Epitopes