There is an increasing trend worldwide in the incidence of Mycobacterium avium complex pulmonary diseases (MAC-PD) and the diagnosis is sometimes complicated. Recently, an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kit that detects serum IgA antibody against MAC-specific glycopeptidolipid (GPL) core antigen had been developed and found to be useful in discriminating MAC-PD from other lung diseases. The antibody was subsequently also found to be elevated in patients suffering Mycobacterium abscessus pulmonary diseases (MAB-PD). This study is to evaluate this EIA kit in the serological diagnosis of MAC-PD in Hong Kong Chinese patients.
The study was conducted in Grantham Hospital, Hong Kong between July 2017 and July 2018. Assay of the IgA antibody level using the EIA kit was done on blood samples collected from patients suffering from MAC-PD, MAB-PD, pulmonary tuberculosis and other lung diseases.
There were 100 subjects recruited into the study, among which 11 were excluded. By using the cut-off value 0.7 U/mL provided by the manufacturer, the sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis were 73.7% and 77.6% for MAC-PD; 50% and 77.6% for MAB-PD. By receiver operating characteristic curves analysis, new cut-off for MAC-PD and MAB-PD were calculated as 1.771 U/mL and 0.172 U/m, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity were 68.4% and 86.2% for MAC-PD, whereas 66.7% and 72.4% for MAB-PD.
Our study showed that the enzyme immunoassay of IgA antibodies against MAC-specific glycopeptidolipid core antigen could help to distinguishing MAC and M. abscessus pulmonary diseases from pulmonary tuberculosis and other lung diseases among Hong Kong Chinese patients. Further larger scale studies in our local population for the usefulness of this antibody test in the diagnosis and monitoring of MAC and M. abscessus lung diseases might be warranted.