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Which factors are related to false negative results of the interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) is unclear. This systematic review described the risk factors associated with false negative IGRA results. Two authors independently identified studies designed to evaluate risk factors for false negative IGRA results from PubMed, the Cochrane Register of Control Trial database, and EMBASE, accessed on October 22, 2018. Meta-analyses were conducted with random-effect models, and heterogeneity was calculated with the I2 method. Of 1,377 titles and abstracts screened, 47 full texts were selected for review, and we finally included 17 studies in this systematic review. The most commonly studied risk factor (14 studies) was advanced age, followed by low peripheral lymphocyte counts (7 studies), and these factors were associated with false negative results even with different tuberculosis incidences (pooled odds ratio 2.06; 95% CI, 1.68-2.52 in advanced age and 2.68; 95% CI, 2.00-3.61 in low peripheral lymphocyte counts). Advanced age and low peripheral lymphocyte counts may be common risk factors for false negative IGRA results, suggesting that people with these factors need to be carefully followed, even if they have negative IGRA results.


Mari Yamasue, Kosaku Komiya, Yuko Usagawa, Kenji Umeki, Shin-Ichi Nureki, Masaru Ando, Kazufumi Hiramatsu, Hideaki Nagai, Jun-Ichi Kadota. Factors associated with false negative interferon-γ release assay results in patients with tuberculosis: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Scientific reports. 2020 Jan 31;10(1):1607

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PMID: 32005930

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