Purified protein derivatives of tuberculin – past, present, and future


Correspondence: Karen M. Dobos, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, 1682 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1682, USA. Tel.: +1 970 491 6549; fax: +1 970 491 1815; e-mail: karen.dobos@colostate.edu


The tuberculin skin test, which involves monitoring the immune reaction to an injection of purified protein derivative (PPD), has been the most widely used method for detecting infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis since its development in 1930s. Until recently, the molecular composition of PPD was unknown. This thwarted the discovery of improved skin testing reagents and drastically hindered efforts to define the mechanism of action. Proteomic evaluation of PPD combined with a detailed analysis in the guinea pig model of tuberculosis led to further definition of the molecular composition of PPD. This communication reviews the history and current status of PPD, in addition to describing candidate next-generation PPD reagents, based on the use of an individual protein or protein cocktails.