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January NaN, 2002

Interferon Assay Compared to Tuberculin Skin Testing for Latent Tuberculosis Detection

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;287(4):450-452. doi:10.1001/jama.287.4.447

To the Editor: Dr Mazurek and colleagues1 claim that the IFN-γ assay used in their study was comparable with the purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test in its ability to detect latent tuberculosis but was less affected by BCG vaccination. The study, however, has several methodological deficits and needs to be interpreted with caution.

First, it is surprising that immunocompromised individuals were excluded from the study although they are at higher risk of mycobacterial infections.2 Second, 18% of patients with suspected tuberculosis (group 3) had a negative IFN-γ assay and a positive TST result while only 3% had a positive IFN-γ assay and a negative TST result. This calls into question the "higher sensitivity" of the assay.

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