Background: The QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) is a newly developed but widely used interferon-γ release assay for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB). However, research has not determined whether age or the use of an immune suppressive or anti-TB treatment influences this assay's ability to detect TB. We assessed the QFT-GIT diagnostic performance for active tuberculosis (ATB) in children and adults in an endemic country and explored the effects of glucocorticoids and anti-TB therapy on the diagnostic value of the QFT-GIT. Methods: A total of 60 children and 212 adults with suspected ATB were evaluated with the QFT-GIT. The association between the QFT-GIT diagnostic value and pretreatment factors was qualitatively and quantitatively assessed. Results: The sensitivity of the QFT-GIT was 83.9% (95% CI 66.3%-94.6%) in children, and 73.7% (95% CI 57.8%-85.2%) in adults. Glucocorticoids affected the mitogen-stimulated response in both children and adults. In subjects undergoing glucocorticoid pretreatment, 25.0% of the children presented with false-negative QFT-GIT results, 28.6% of adults presented with indeterminate results. For subjects pre-treated with anti-TB drugs, 44.4% presented with false-negative QFT-GIT results. Conclusions: The QFT-GIT has higher sensitivity and specificity in children than adults. Glucocorticoid treatment negatively impacts the diagnostic value of the QFT-GIT in all age groups. Anti-TB treatment decreases the sensitivity of the QFT-GIT. Therefore, we recommend that the QFT-GIT assay be performed before TB-specific treatment is initiated and the test should not be used on people undergoing immunosuppression treatment, regardless of their age. A quantitative analysis of the QFT-GIT could be useful for assessing and monitoring TB-specific and non-specific immunity during conversion of the disease.
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