Diagnosis of tuberculous pleurisy using the biologic parameters adenosine deaminase, lysozyme, and interferon gamma

Chest. 1993 Feb;103(2):458-65. doi: 10.1378/chest.103.2.458.


We compared the parameters pleural adenosine deaminase (PADA, determined in 405 patients), the PADA/serum ADA ratio (P/SADA; 276 cases), pleural lysozyme (PLYS, 276 cases), the PLYS/serum LYS ratio (P/SLYS; 276 cases), and pleural interferon gamma (IFN, 145 cases) regarding their ability to differentiate tuberculous pleural effusions from others. The 405 pleural effusions were classified by previously established criteria as tuberculous (91), neoplastic (110), parapneumonic (58), empyemas (10), transudates (88), or miscellaneous (48). The intermean differences between the tuberculous group and each of the others were statistically significant for all five parameters (p < 0.01 for PLYS and P/SLYS with respect to the empyema group; p < 0.001 otherwise), except for PADA and P/SADA with respect to the empyema group. All the tuberculous pleurisy cases had PADA values of 47 U/L or more, as compared to only 5 percent of the other cases (sensitivity, 100 percent; specificity, 95 percent). P/SADA was above 1.5 in 85.7 percent of tuberculous effusions and 11 percent of the others (sensitivity, 85.7 percent; specificity, 89 percent). PLYS, with a diagnostic threshold of 15 g/ml, had a sensitivity of 85.7 percent and a specificity of 61.6 percent; P/SLYS, with a threshold of 1.1, had a sensitivity of 67.3 percent and a specificity of 90.3 percent; and IFN, with a threshold of 140 pg/ml, had a sensitivity of 94.2 percent and a specificity of 91.8 percent. The lowest misclassification rate was achieved by PADA, with statistically significant differences (p < 0.001) with respect to P/SADA, PLYS, and P/SLYS, but not with respect to IFN. The only significant pairwise correlations among these parameters were between P/SLYS and PADA and between P/SLYS and P/SADA. We conclude that PADA and IFN are useful parameters for early diagnosis of tuberculous pleurisy, and that the other parameters considered have no advantages over PADA and IFN for this purpose (though the high specificity of P/SLYS may be noted).

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Deaminase / analysis*
  • Adult
  • Clinical Enzyme Tests
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis*
  • Male
  • Muramidase / analysis*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion / metabolism
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural / diagnosis*


  • Interferon-gamma
  • Muramidase
  • Adenosine Deaminase