Diagnosis of active tuberculosis using MPB64, a specific antigen of Mycobacterium bovis


Seiji Kanda, Department of Public Health, Kansai Medical University, 10-15 Fumizono-cho, Moriguchi, Osaka, 570–8506, Japan. Tel: +81 6 6992 1001; Fax: +81 6 6992 5194; e-mail: kandas@takii.kmu.ac.jp


Because the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is still high in developing countries, an inexpensive and rapid diagnostic test for this infection is needed. To develop a screening test for TB, MPB64 antigen was produced by recombinant technology and purified with a polyhistidine tag. Next, serum and urine samples from patients with TB and uninfected individuals were examined by the dot-blot assay method using this purified antigen. Serum samples from patients with TB reacted more strongly with MPB64 antigen than did those from uninfected individuals. In addition, serum samples from TB patients with active infection reacted more strongly with the antigen than did samples from patients with inactive TB. When urine samples were assessed using this assay, similar results were obtained. Correlations between the data obtained from serum and urine samples were analyzed for all subjects, including uninfected individuals, and a strong positive correlation between the results of serum and urine tests (n = 36, r = 0.672) was found. The sensitivity and specificity of this assay for serum samples was 85.7 % and 85.0 %, and for urine samples 75.0 % and 85.0 %, respectively. These results suggest that dot-blot assay with MPB64 antigen could be a useful screening test for active TB. Because urine samples can be obtained more easily than serum samples and because urine is less contagious, urine testing should probably be employed for screening purposes.