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Anti-mycobacterial recall responses differentiate female patients with genital tuberculosis from patients with other gynecological problems

Markos Abebe
Abraham Aseffa
Morten Harboe
Zufan Lakew
Lukman Yusuf
Joseph Olobo
Mekuria Lakew


Background: Female Genital Tuberculosis (FGTB) is one form of extra pulmonary tuberculosis affecting the female reproductive organs, most commonly the fallopian tubes and the endometrium. It affects young women aged between 20 and 40 years of age and is an important cause of infertility. It often occurs as a secondary complication following pulmonary tuberculosis. Diagnosis depends mainly on clinical suspicion in countries where facilities for mycobacterial culture and histopathology are unavailable. Even in places where these facilities exist, diagnosis still remains difficult because of the lower sensitivity and specificity of the methods as well as the invasive procedure of acquiring biopsy specimens.

Objective: To explore the immunological profiles of female genital tuberculosis (FGTB) patients in response to mycobacterial antigens.

Methods: Twenty-five clinically suspected cases of FGTB and 12 control subjects who came to the Black Lion hospital for unrelated gynecological problems were included in the study. Peripheral blood samples were collected from each subject. Plasma was separated by centrifugation and PBMC were isolated over ficoll-hypaque and stimulated in vitro with mycobacterial antigens to examine their proliferative response as incorporation of tritiated thymidine using a β-counter. HIV status and total IgG-, IgA- and IgM- antibody levels were determined by ELISA tests.

Results: In vitro recall responses to M. tuberculosis antigens (PPD and BCG sonicate) as well as plasma levels of IgGIgA- and IgM-antibodies to MPT59 showed statistically significant differences between the patients and the controls (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The results show that PBMC of FGTB patients recognize M. tuberculosis antigens more strongly than PBMC of patients with other gynecological problems.

Ethiopian Journal of Health Development Vol. 19(3) 2005: 219-24

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eISSN: 1021-6790