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Immunohistochemical diagnosis of abdominal and lymph node tuberculosis by detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex specific antigen MPT64

Manju R Purohit123, Tehmina Mustafa14*, Harald G Wiker45, Odd Mørkve16 and Lisbet Sviland12

Author affiliations

1 Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

2 Department of Pathology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

3 Department of Pathology, R.D. Gardi Medical College, Ujjain, India

4 Section for Microbiology and Immunology, The Gade Institute, University of Bergen, Norway

5 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

6 Department of Thoracic Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2007, 2:36  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-2-36

Published: 25 September 2007



The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic potential of immunohistochemistry using an antibody to the secreted mycobacterial antigen MPT64, in abdominal and lymph node tuberculosis.


We used formalin-fixed histologically diagnosed abdominal tuberculosis (n = 33) and cervical tuberculous lymphadenitis (n = 120) biopsies. These were investigated using a combination of Ziehl-Neelsen method, culture, immunohistochemistry with an antibody to MPT64, a specific antigen for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex organisms. Abdominal and cervical lymph node biopsies from non-mycobacterial diseases (n = 50) were similarly tested as negative controls. Immunohistochemistry with commercially available anti-BCG and nested PCR for IS6110 were done for comparison. Nested PCR was positive in 86.3% cases and the results of all the tests were compared using nested PCR as the gold standard.


In lymph node biopsies, immunohistochemistry with anti-MPT64 was positive in 96 (80%) cases and 4 (12.5%) controls and with anti-BCG 92 (76.6%), and 9 (28%) respectively. The results for cases and controls in abdominal biopsies were 25 (75.7%) and 2 (11.1%) for anti-MPT64 and 25 (75.7%) and 4 (22%) for anti-BCG. The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of immunohistochemistry with anti-MPT64 was 92%, 97%, 98%, and 85%, respectively while the corresponding values for anti-BCG were 88%, 85%, 92%, and 78%.


Immunohistochemistry using anti-MPT64 is a simple and sensitive technique for establishing an early and specific diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection and one that can easily be incorporated into routine histopathology laboratories.