BACKGROUND: Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs), such as the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT), are becoming a preferred method for diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) infection in many industrialised countries. However, data on the effectiveness of IGRAs in high TB-HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) endemic and resource-limited settings, such as Zambia, are limited.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the intra-assay reliability and robustness of QFT-GIT in a field setting in Zambia.
DESIGN: During July-October 2007, 109 adult smear-positive TB patients were recruited to determine QFT-GIT reliability and the effect of a 24-h delay in incubation. Two simulated laboratory experiments were also performed using 9-14 volunteers, to explore the effect of power outages during incubation and storage temperature of collection tubes on IFN-γ responses.
RESULTS: QFT-GIT intra-assay concordance was 91.7% (κ = 0.8). Discordance was observed for nine patients, of whom six were HIV-positive. There was evidence of an association between HIV status and discordant results (OR 1.98, 95%CI 1.06-3.67, P = 0.03). A 24-h delay in incubation changed results for 25 of the 109 (22.9%) patients. Power outages that altered incubation time reduced IFN-γ responses.
CONCLUSION: Although QFT-GIT seems reliable in this setting, we have identified operational factors that affect its robustness. These factors may influence the effectiveness of this test in similar resource-limited settings.
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (2005) 14 (7) 828-833