BioScience Trends. 2023;17(1):73-77. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01476)

Detecting latent tuberculosis infection with a breath test using mass spectrometer: A pilot cross-sectional study

Fu L, Feng Y, Ren TT, Yang M, Yang QT, Lin Y, Zeng H, Zhang JH, Liu L, Li QY, He MQ, Zhang PZ, Chen HB, Deng GF


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infects a quarter of the world's population and may progress to active tuberculosis (ATB). There is no gold standard for diagnosing latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Some immunodiagnostic tests are recommended to detect LTBI but can not distinguish ATB from LTBI. The breath test is useful for diagnosing ATB compared to healthy subjects but was never studied for LTBI. This proof-of-concept study (Chinese Clinical Trials Registry number: ChiCTR2200058346) was the first to explore a novel, rapid, and simple LTBI detection method via breath test on highpressure photon ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPPI-TOFMS). The case group of LTBI subjects (n = 185) and the control group (n = 250), which included ATB subgroup (n = 121) and healthy control (HC) subgroup (n = 129), were enrolled. The LTBI detection model indicated that a breath test via HPPI-TOFMS could distinguish LTBI from the control with a sensitivity of 80.0% (95% CI: 67.6%, 92.4%) and a specificity of 80.8% (95% CI: 71.8%, 89.9%). Nevertheless, further intensive studies with a larger sample size are required for clinical application.

KEYWORDS: latent tuberculosis infection, tuberculosis, diagnosis, volatile organic compounds, breath

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