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Given that there is no rapid and effective method for distinguishing active tuberculosis (ATB) from latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), the discrimination between these two statuses remains challenging. This study sought to investigate the value of nutritional indexes and tuberculosis-specific antigen/phytohemagglutinin ratio (TBAg/PHA ratio) for distinguishing ATB from LTBI. Participants were consecutively recruited based on positive T-SPOT.TB results between January 2018 and January 2020. ATB was diagnosed by positive mycobacterial culture and/or positive GeneXpert MTB/RIF, with clinical symptoms and radiological characteristics suggestive of ATB. Individuals with positive T-SPOT.TB but without the evidence of ATB were defined as LTBI. Patients younger than 17 years and undergoing anti-TB treatment were excluded. A total of 709 (312 ATB and 397 LTBI) and another 309 (120 ATB and 189 LTBI) subjects were respectively recruited from Tongji Hospital (Qiaokou cohort) and Sino-French New City Hospital (Caidian cohort). The level of prealbumin was significantly lower in ATB than in LTBI. With a cut-off value of 139 mg/L, the sensitivity and specificity of prealbumin in distinguishing ATB from LTBI were 50.96% (45.41%-56.51%) and 91.69% (88.97%-94.40%). Meanwhile, TBAg/PHA ratio was found statistically higher in ATB compared with LTBI. If using the threshold of 0.29, the sensitivity and specificity of TBAg/PHA ratio were 65.71% (60.44%-70.97%) and 90.93% (88.11%-93.76%), respectively. Moreover, the combination of prealbumin and TBAg/PHA ratio (obtaining by diagnostic model) yielded better specificity (90.18%, [87.25%-93.10%]) and sensitivity (87.18%, [83.47%-90.89%]), while the clinical utility index (CUI) positive and CUI negative were respectively 0.76 and 0.81. After anti-TB treatment, TBAg/PHA ratio was declined while the level of prealbumin was restored (Wilcoxon test, P < 0.001). Furthermore, the performance of diagnostic model obtained in Qiaokou cohort was confirmed in Caidian cohort. The diagnostic model based on combination of prealbumin and TBAg/PHA ratio is a rapid and accurate tool for discriminating ATB from LTBI. © 2020 The Authors. International Journal of Clinical Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Ying Luo, Ying Xue, Xu Yuan, Qun Lin, Guoxing Tang, Liyan Mao, Huijuan Song, Feng Wang, Ziyong Sun. Combination of prealbumin and tuberculosis-specific antigen/phytohemagglutinin ratio for discriminating active tuberculosis from latent tuberculosis infection. International journal of clinical practice. 2021 Apr;75(4):e13831

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PMID: 33175465

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