Development of an Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) to Aid Diagnosis of Histoplasmosis

Kausik Datta, Richard LaRue, Nitipong Permpalung, Sukanya Das, Sean Zhang, Seema Mehta Steinke, Yuri Bushkin, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Kieren A. Marr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Establishing diagnosis of latent and active histoplasmosis is challenging. Interferon gamma-release assays (IGRAs) may provide evidence of latent and active infection. An enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay was developed using yeast cell lysate (YCL) antigen prepared from a representative North American Histoplasma capsulatum strain. Assay parameters were optimized by measuring responses in healthy volunteers with and without Histoplasma infection. Assay performance as an aid for diagnosing histoplasmosis was assessed in a prospective cohort of 88 people with suspected or confirmed infection, and 44 healthy controls enrolled in two centers in North America (2013 to 2018). Antigen specificity of IFN-γ release was demonstrated using ELISpot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Antigen-evoked, single-cell mRNA expression by memory T cells was shown using flow cytometry. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was estimated at 0.89 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 78.5% to 99.9%). At optimal cutoff, sensitivity was 77.2% (95% CI: 54.6% to 92.2%) and specificity was 100% (95% CI: 89.7% to 100%). Sixteen of 44 healthy volunteers (36.4%) from a region of hyperendemicity had positive responses, suggesting detection of previously unrecognized (latent) infection. The ELISpot assay is sensitive and specific as an aid to diagnose H. capsulatum infection and disease, supporting proof of concept and further development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e0112822
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 19 2022


  • diagnosis
  • histoplasma
  • histoplasmosis
  • IGRA
  • immunodiagnostics
  • interferon gamma release

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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