Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 22258485
Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2012 Nov;71(11):1783-90
BACKGROUND: The recommendations for detecting latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) before antitumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy are based on the tuberculin skin test (TST), which lacks both specificity and sensitivity and can lead to unnecessary treatment with antibiotics. A study was undertaken to investigate the effect of replacing TST with interferon γ (IFNγ) release assays (IGRA) in screening for LTBI and deciding to begin prophylactic antituberculosis (TB) antibiotics before anti-TNF therapy in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.
METHODS: In 15 tertiary care hospitals, consecutive patients with rheumatoid arthritis, spondylarthropathies or Crohn’s disease were screened for LTBI before anti-TNF therapy with TST, QuantiFERON TB Gold in tube (QTF-Gold IT) and T-SPOT.TB at the same time. The potential diagnosis of LTBI and the effect on the decision to begin antibiotic prophylaxis were assessed.
RESULTS: Among 429 patients, 392 had results for the three tests. The results for TST, T-SPOT.TB and QTF Gold IT were positive for 35.2%, 15.1% and 9.9% of patients, respectively (p<0.0001). Antibiotics were required for 177 patients (45.2%) if positive TST results were included in the LTBI definition, 107 patients (27.3%) if TST results were replaced with results from one of the IGRA tests and 84 patients (21.4%) if TST results were replaced with QTF-Gold IT results (p<0.0001). The decision on the use of antibiotic prophylaxis was changed for 113 patients (28.8%, 95% CI 24.4% to 33.6%) if TST results were replaced with QTF-Gold IT results.
CONCLUSIONS: Replacing TST with IGRA for determining LTBI allowed the proportion of patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases needing prophylactic anti-TB antibiotics before beginning anti-TNF agents to be reduced by half.