Background Approaches to screening for active tuberculosis (TB) among people living with HIV are inadequate, leading to missed diagnoses and poor implementation of preventive therapy. Methods Consecutive HIV-infected adults hospitalized at Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda) between June 2011 and July 2013 with a cough 2 weeks were enrolled. Patients underwent extensive evaluation for pulmonary TB. Concentrations of 43 cytokines/chemokines were measured at the same time point as C-reactive protein (CRP) in banked plasma samples using commercially-available multiplex kits. Advanced classification algorithms were used to rank cytokines/chemokines for their ability to identify TB, and to model the specificityof the top-ranked cytokines/chemokines individually and in combination with sensitivity constrained to ? 90% as recommended for TB screening. Results The median plasma level of 5 biomarkers (IL-6, INF-?, MIG, CRP, IL-18) was significantly different between patients with and without TB. With sensitivity constrained to 90%, all had low specificity with IL-6 showing the highest specificity (44%; 95% CI 37.4-49.5). Biomarker panels were found to be more valuable than any biomarker alone. A panel combining IFN-? and IL-6 had the highest specificity (50%; 95% CI 46.7-53.3). Sensitivity remained high (>85%) for all panels among sputum smear-negative TB patients. Conclusions Direct measurement of unstimulated plasma cytokines/chemokines in peripheral blood is a promising approach to TB screening. Cytokine/chemokine panels retained high sensitivity for smear-negative TB and achieved improved specificity compared to individual cytokines/chemokines. These markers should be further evaluated in outpatient settings where most TB screening occurs and where other illnesses associated with systematic inflammation are less common.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)