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In Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology ; h5-index 53.0

Rationale : Tuberculosis diagnosis in children remains challenging. Microbiological confirmation of tuberculosis disease is often lacking, and standard immunodiagnostic including the tuberculin skin test and interferon-γ release assay for tuberculosis infection has limited sensitivity. Recent research suggests that inclusion of novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens has the potential to improve standard immunodiagnostic tests for tuberculosis.

Objective : To identify optimal antigen-cytokine combinations using novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens and cytokine read-outs by machine learning algorithms to improve immunodiagnostic assays for tuberculosis.

Methods : A total of 80 children undergoing investigation of tuberculosis were included (15 confirmed tuberculosis disease, five unconfirmed tuberculosis disease, 28 tuberculosis infection and 32 unlikely tuberculosis). Whole blood was stimulated with 10 novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens and a fusion protein of early secretory antigenic target (ESAT)-6 and culture filtrate protein (CFP) 10. Cytokines were measured using xMAP multiplex assays. Machine learning algorithms defined a discriminative classifier with performance measured using area under the receiver operating characteristics.

Measurements and main results : We found the following four antigen-cytokine pairs had a higher weight in the discriminative classifier compared to the standard ESAT-6/CFP-10-induced interferon-γ: Rv2346/47c- and Rv3614/15c-induced interferon-gamma inducible protein-10; Rv2031c-induced granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and ESAT-6/CFP-10-induced tumor necrosis factor-α. A combination of the 10 best antigen-cytokine pairs resulted in area under the curve of 0.92 ± 0.04.

Conclusion : We exploited the use of machine learning algorithms as a key tool to evaluate large immunological datasets. This identified several antigen-cytokine pairs with the potential to improve immunodiagnostic tests for tuberculosis in children.

Meier Noƫmi Rebecca, Sutter Thomas M, Jacobsen Marc, Ottenhoff Tom H M, Vogt Julia E, Ritz Nicole


cytokines, immune response, interferon-gamma release assay, novel antigens, pediatric tuberculosis