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ABSTRACT: The diagnosis of tuberculosis remains among public health concerns due to shortcomings of the purified protein derivative (PPD). Recombinant truncated 38 kDa protein (rTPA38) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis was evaluated to screen new tuberculosis-specific tuberculin. 539 patients, 1133 healthy controls, and 55 guinea pigs were recruited to assess their sensitivity and specificity to rTPA38; 221 healthy controls, with negative responses to rTPA38 and PPD, were vaccinated with M. bovis BCG to determine their cross-reactions with M. bovis BCG. The Mantoux technique was adopted to perform skin tests. No difference in the sensitivity of skin tests was detected between rTPA38 and PPD (78.2% vs 83.4%), but there was a significant difference in the specificity of skin tests between rTPA38 and PPD (75.2% vs 47.0%). Compared to PPD, rTPA38 elicited low positive responses for those recruitments vaccinated with M. bovis BCG. The rTPA38 had significant skin reactions in M. tuberculosis-sensitized guinea pigs, and the opposite was true for both M. fortuitum- and M. kansasii-sensitized guinea pigs. These findings indicate that rTPA38 may have potential as a tuberculosis-specific skin test antigen.
Tianjin Chest HospitalT’ien-ching-shih, Tianjin Shi, China