The diagnostic utility of pleural markers for tuberculosis pleural effusion

Man Zhang, Dan Li, Zhi-De Hu, Yuan-Lan Huang


Tuberculosis pleural effusion (TPE) is common in clinical practice, and its diagnosis remains a challenge for clinicians. Ziehl-Neelsen staining, PE Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture, and biopsy are the gold standards for TPE diagnosis; however, they are time-consuming, invasive, observer-dependent, and insensitive. PE markers represent a rapid, low-cost, and non-invasive objective diagnostic tool for TPE. In the past decades, several PE biomarkers have been developed, and their diagnostic accuracy has been evaluated in many studies. Here, we reviewed the literature to summarize the diagnostic accuracy of these biomarkers, especially using the evidence from systematic review and meta-analysis. The current research strongly suggests that adenosine deaminase (ADA), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), and interleukin 27 (IL-27) have extremely higher diagnostic accuracy for TPE, while the diagnostic accuracy of interferon gamma release assays (IGRAs), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interferon-γ-induced protein 10 kDa (IP-10) is moderate. Although some evidence supports C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 9 (CXCL9), CXCL11, CXCL12, sFas ligand, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), calpain-1, spectrin breakdown products (SBDP), matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), soluble CD26 (sCD26), soluble interleukin 2 receptor (sIL-2R) as useful diagnostic markers for TPE, more support is needed to validate their diagnostic accuracy. Finally, nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) have extremely high diagnostic specificity, but their sensitivity is low. Taken together, ADA is the preferred marker for TPE because its low cost and suitability for standardization.

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