Background: Improved systematic screening of high-risk groups is a key component of the tuberculosis (TB) elimination strategy endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). We used a multiplex microbead immunoassay to measure antibody responses to 28 M. tuberculosis (M.tb) antigens, and assessed whether combinations of antibody responses achieve accuracy thresholds required for a TB screening test. Methods: A random selection of plasma samples obtained from consecutive HIV-negative adults who were admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda with cough ≥2 weeks’ but <6 months’ duration were analyzed for serological response to 28 M.tb antigens using an in-house multiplex microbead immunoassay. We compared the median difference of the antibody response to each antigen between patients with and without culture-confirmed TB, ranked each antigen according to variable importance (VIM), and assessed the sensitivity and specificity of combinations of antibody responses using an advanced classification algorithm, SuperLearner. Results: Among the 237 patients included in the analysis, 119 (50%) were female, median age was 32 years (IQR 25, 46), and 113 (48%) had TB. Median antibody levels to eight antigens were significantly different between patients with and without TB. A panel including eight of the top ranked antigens had a sensitivity of 90.6% (95% CI 89.4, 93.8) and a specificity of 88.6% (95% CI 78.2, 97.6) (Ag85B, Ag85A, Ag85C, Rv0934-P38, Rv3881, BfrB, Rv3873, and Rv2878c). With sensitivity constrained to be >90%, specificity remained close to 70% with as few as 3 antigens included in the panels. Conclusions: Measuring antibody responses to combinations of antigens could facilitate TB screening and should be further evaluated in populations being targeted for systematic screening.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)