Feasibility of novel approaches to detect viable Mycobacterium tuberculosis within the spectrum of the tuberculosis disease

Sogol Alebouyeh, Brian Weinrick, Jacqueline M. Achkar, Maria J. García, Rafael C. Prados-Rosales

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tuberculosis (TB) is a global disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and is manifested as a continuum spectrum of infectious states. Both, the most common and clinically asymptomatic latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), and the symptomatic disease, active tuberculosis (TB), are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Such binary classification is insufficient to describe the existing clinical heterogeneity, which includes incipient and subclinical TB. The absence of clinically TB-related symptoms and the extremely low bacterial burden are features shared by LTBI, incipient and subclinical TB states. In addition, diagnosis relies on cytokine release after antigenic T cell stimulation, yet several studies have shown that a high proportion of individuals with immunoreactivity never developed disease, suggesting that they were no longer infected. LTBI is estimated to affect to approximately one fourth of the human population and, according to WHO data, reactivation of LTBI is the main responsible of TB cases in developed countries. Assuming the drawbacks associated to the current diagnostic tests at this part of the disease spectrum, properly assessing individuals at real risk of developing TB is a major need. Further, it would help to efficiently design preventive treatment. This quest would be achievable if information about bacterial viability during human silent Mtb infection could be determined. Here, we have evaluated the feasibility of new approaches to detect viable bacilli across the full spectrum of TB disease. We focused on methods that specifically can measure host-independent parameters relying on the viability of Mtb either by its direct or indirect detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number965359
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 22 2022


  • incipient TB
  • LTBI (Latent TB infection)
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • subclinical TB
  • TB spectrum
  • viable bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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