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Xpert Ultra testing of blood in severe HIV-associated tuberculosis to detect and measure Mycobacterium tuberculosis blood stream infection: a diagnostic and disease biomarker cohort study.
journal contributionposted on 2022-06-30, 13:54 authored by Linda Boloko, Charlotte Schutz, Nomfundo Sibiya, Avuyonke Balfour, Amy Ward, Muki Shey, Mark P Nicol, Rosie Burton, Robert J Wilkinson, Gary Maartens, Graeme Meintjes, David A Barr
BACKGROUND: Mycobacterium tuberculosis bloodstream infection is a leading cause of death in people living with HIV and disseminated bacillary load might be a key driver of disease severity. We aimed to assess Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra (Xpert Ultra) testing of blood as a diagnostic for M tuberculosis bloodstream infection and investigate cycle threshold as a quantitative disease biomarker. METHODS: In this cohort study, we obtained biobanked blood samples from a large and well characterised cohort of adult patients admitted to hospital in Western Cape, South Africa with suspected HIV-associated tuberculosis and a CD4 count less than 350 cells per μL. Patients already receiving antituberculosis therapy were excluded. Samples were obtained on recruitment within 72 h of admission to hospital, and patients were followed up for 12 weeks to determine survival. We tested the biobanked blood samples using the Xpert Ultra platform after lysis and wash processing of the blood. We assessed diagnostic yield (proportion of cases detected, with unavailable test results coded as negative) against a microbiological reference, both as a function of markers of critical-illness and compared with other rapid diagnostics (urine lipoarabinomannan and sputum Xpert). Quantitative blood Xpert Ultra results were evaluated as a disease biomarker by assessing association with disease phenotype defined by principal component analysis of 32 host-response markers. Prognostic value compared to other tuberculosis biomarkers was assessed using likelihood ratio testing of nested models predicting 12-week mortality. FINDINGS: Between Jan 16, 2014, and Oct 19, 2016, of the 659 participants recruited to the parent study, 582 had an available biobanked blood sample. 447 (77%) of 582 met the microbiological reference standard for tuberculosis diagnosis. Median CD4 count was 62 (IQR 221-33) cells per μL, and 123 (21%) of participants died by 12-weeks follow-up. Blood Xpert Ultra was positive in 165 (37%) of 447 participants with confirmed tuberculosis by the microbiological reference standard, with a diagnostic yield of 0·37 (95% CI 0·32-0·42). Diagnostic yield increased with lower CD4 count or haemoglobin, and outperformed urine lipoarabinomannan testing in participants with elevated venous lactate. Quantitative blood Xpert Ultra results were more closely associated with mortality than other tuberculosis biomarkers including blood culture, and urine lipoarabinomannan, or urine Xpert (all p<0·05). A principal component of clinical phenotype capturing markers of inflammation, tissue damage, and organ dysfunction was strongly associated with both blood Xpert-Ultra positivity (associated with a SD increase of 1·1 in PC score, p<0·0001) and cycle threshold (r= -0·5; p<0·0001). INTERPRETATION: Xpert Ultra testing of pre-processed blood could be used as a rapid diagnostic test in critically ill patients with suspected HIV-associated tuberculosis, while also giving additional prognostic information compared with other available markers. A dose-response relationship between quantitative blood Xpert Ultra results, host-response phenotype, and mortality risk adds to evidence that suggests M tuberculosis bloodstream infection bacillary load is causally related to outcomes. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, National Institute of Health Fogarty International Center, South African MRC, UK National Institute of Health Research, National Research Foundation of South Africa. TRANSLATIONS: For the Xhosa and Afrikaans translations of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.