, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 283–290 | Cite as

Risk for latent and active tuberculosis in Germany

  • Christian Herzmann
  • Giovanni Sotgiu
  • Oswald Bellinger
  • Roland Diel
  • Silke Gerdes
  • Udo Goetsch
  • Helga Heykes-Uden
  • Tom Schaberg
  • Christoph LangeEmail author
  • For the TB or not TB consortium
Open Access
Original Paper



Few individuals that are latently infected with M. tuberculosis latent tuberculosis infection(LTBI) progress to active disease. We investigated risk factors for LTBI and active pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in Germany.


Healthy household contacts (HHCs), health care workers (HCWs) exposed to M. tuberculosis and PTB patients were recruited at 18 German centres. Interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) testing was performed. LTBI risk factors were evaluated by comparing IGRA-positive with IGRA-negative contacts. Risk factors for tuberculosis were evaluated by comparing PTB patients with HHCs.


From 2008–2014, 603 HHCs, 295 HCWs and 856 PTBs were recruited. LTBI was found in 34.5% of HHCs and in 38.9% of HCWs. In HCWs, care for coughing patients (p = 0.02) and longstanding nursing occupation (p = 0.04) were associated with LTBI. In HHCs, predictors for LTBI were a diseased partner (odds ratio 4.39), sexual contact to a diseased partner and substance dependency (all p < 0.001). PTB was associated with male sex, low body weight (p < 0.0001), alcoholism (15.0 vs 5.9%; p < 0.0001), glucocorticoid therapy (7.2 vs 2.0%; p = 0.004) and diabetes (7.8 vs. 4.0%; p = 0.04). No contact developed active tuberculosis within 2 years follow-up.


Positive IGRA responses are frequent among exposed HHCs and HCWs in Germany and are poor predictors for the development of active tuberculosis.


LTBI Incidence Diabetes mellitus IGRA Health care workers Household contacts 



Acid fast bacilli


M. bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung


Body mass index


European Economic Area


European Union


Healthcare worker


Household contact


Interferon-gamma release assay


Isoniazid preventive therapy


Interquartile range


Intravenous drug use


Latent tuberculosis infection


Odds ratio


Pulmonary tuberculosis


Standard deviation




Tuberculin skin test


United Kingdom


World Health Organisation


Tuberculosis incidence has declined in Western Europe [1]. In 2014, the notified incidence in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) was 14.2 cases per 100,000 population [1], in some countries only 5 cases per 100,000 [1]. Aiming at further reduction, the WHO advocated a target tuberculosis incidence of <1 cases per 1,000,000 in low incidence countries, i.e. the consensual tuberculosis elimination threshold [2].

Tuberculosis prevention relies on early case finding and on the identification of persons latently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (LTBI) [3]. LTBI is defined by a positive response to the tuberculin skin test (TST) or an interferon-release assay (IGRA) without tuberculosis associated symptoms or signs. It is unclear whether the test results reflect viable bacilli in the human host. False positive results can be found, especially in populations of low prevalence.

Approximately 9% of healthy persons in Western Europe have a positive TST or IGRA test result [4]. If the whole population was screened with subsequent preventive chemotherapy for all who tested positive, the number needed to treat to prevent one case would not be cost effective. LTBI screening and treatment is, therefore, only performed in populations with an a priori higher risk for the disease [5], e.g. house hold contacts.

Contact tracing identifies 16–44% of close household contacts of contagious patients with LTBI [6, 7]. Nevertheless, only a small fraction develops active tuberculosis despite the absence of preventive chemotherapy [8]. Predictive markers of progression to active tuberculosis are lacking. The number of latently infected contacts requiring preventive chemotherapy to prevent a single case of tuberculosis is >1:30 in Western Europe [8]. Adherence to recommendations for preventive chemotherapy is poor in Germany [9].

To improve prevention and to target individuals for preventive chemotherapy more precisely, additional knowledge of risk factors for of LTBI and tuberculosis is needed. Therefore, our consortium collected epidemiological and clinical data from pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) patients and close contacts.


This observational, multicentre, prospective study was conducted by the German research consortium on “pulmonary tuberculosis—host and pathogen determinants of resistance and disease progression—(TB or not TB)”. It was approved by the ethics committee of the University of Lübeck (reference 07–125) and adopted by the ethics committees of all 18 participating centres.

Household contacts (HHCs) were recruited at three municipal healthcare centres (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover). They were suitable for enrolment if they were asymptomatic with no signs of tuberculosis on chest X-ray, were exposed >8 h to patients with acid-fast bacilli (AFB) in the sputum or >40 h in AFB negative, culture-confirmed PTB. Their last unprotected exposure was ≥8 weeks prior to enrolment.

Healthcare workers (HCWs) with ongoing professional contact to patients with AFB sputum smear-positive tuberculosis, a cumulative exposure of ≥2 years, and no signs or symptoms of tuberculosis were recruited at 18 German respiratory medicine centres.

Patients with current or previous PTB that was culture confirmed from sputum or a broncho-pulmonary specimen were enrolled. Patients were excluded if they were prison inmates, subjects under guardianship or soldiers as this interferes with their informed consent.

Clinical and demographic data were captured on an ad hoc standardised questionnaire.

This questionnaire was amended during the first 3 years resulting in some data on medical and social risk factors. IGRAs were performed on blood from contact persons by the QuantiFERON Gold In-Tube® (QFT; Cellestis Qiagen, Australia) or T-Spot.TB® (Elispot; Oxford Immunotec, Oxford, UK) at the physician’s discretion. TST was not regularly performed since national recommendations regarding the use of the TST were amended during the study [10].

At the start of the study, a two-step approach was recommended involving both, TST and IGRA but TST was abandoned in 2011. The study protocol required an obligatory IGRA and an optional TST.

After 2 years, HHCs were followed up by health authorities; HCWs by a study physician. A questionnaire was sent to the participants. Notified tuberculosis cases would have been reported by the participating health authorities.

Statistical analyses

Variables were described using relative frequencies (percentages) and means (standard deviations—SD) or medians (interquartile ranges—IQR) according to their parametric distribution, respectively.

Chi-squared test and student t test or Mann–Whitney U test were applied appropriately to assess significant differences. Appropriate univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed.

Two-tailed p values <0.05 were considered significant. Analyses were carried out with STATA®13 software (StataCorp, College Station, TX, USA).


From December 2008 to December 2014 we recruited 1754 individuals, i.e. 603 HHCs, 295 HCWs, and 856 PTB patients (Table 1). 81 HHCs and 15 HCWs were excluded from further analyses due to a missing IGRA result. Among contact persons (Table 2), HCWs were older than HHCs (mean ± SD: 48.0 ± 5.0- vs 40.6 ± 9.3 years; p < 0.0001), were less likely to smoke (23.5 vs 46.4%; p < 0.0001), more likely to be female (88.0 vs 53.6%; p < 0.0001), and to be born in Germany (88.4 vs 53.2%; p < 0.0001) by a German mother (85.9 vs 43.6%; p < 0.0001). An IGRA result was available in 522 HHCs and 280 HCWs, of which 180 (34.5%) and 109 (38.9%) had a positive result, respectively. IGRA results had no gender preference. The proportions of males were 47.8 vs 45.6% (p = 0.64) among HHCs and 21.3 vs 22.5% among HCWs (p = 0.82) with a positive vs. negative IGRA result, respectively. Most of the initial patients had a TST, but due to changed recommendations, later patients did not necessarily undergo skin testing. Policy changes were adapted by the centres with variable delay. For HCWs, neither a well-defined period of exposure nor the moment of last unprotected exposure could be determined. Preventive therapy is not recommended in this setting; therefore, no data about preventive chemotherapy was obtained. Most HHCs were recruited about 6–8 weeks after their last unprotected exposure, i.e. before isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) was initiated. Therefore, data on IPT was only available in about one-third of the individuals. IPT was administered more often in IGRA-positive persons (11 out of 59 subjects; 18.6%) than IGRA-negative subjects (3 out of 109 subjects, 2.8%; p < 0.0001). No contact person developed active tuberculosis during the two-year follow-up. Follow-up data was available for 241 HCWs and 171 HHCs.
Table 1

Numbers of study subjects from participating centres

Municipal health authorities/centre

Number of HHCs

Number of PTBs

Hamburg municipal health authority



Frankfurt municpal health authority



Hannover municipal health authority



Research Center Borstel


See below




Respiratory hospital

Number of HCWs

Number of PTBs

Lungenfachklinik immenhausen



HELIOS Klinikum, Berlin



Klinikum Nürnberg



Lungenklinik Hemer



Asklepios München-Gauting



Thoraxklinik UK Heidelberg



Fachkrankenhaus Coswig



Klinik Bad Lippspringe



Lungenklinik Lostau



Pneum.Klinik Greifenstein



Klinik Donaustauf



Klinikum Hannover



Fachklinik, Parsberg



Klinik Schillerhöhe Gerlingen



KKH Diekholzen



Klinik St. Blasien



Ev. Lungenklinik Berlin



Klinik Amsee, Waren



Research Center Borstel



Lungenklinik Rotenburg



Krankenhaus Großhansdorf



MH Hannover



KH Solingen









HHCs household contacts, HCWs health-care workers, PTBs patients with pulmonary tuberculosis

Table 2

Risk factors for LTBI and active TB in household contacts, healthcare workers and patients with pulmonary tuberculosis





p value (all HHCs vs. all HCWs)

p value (all HHCs vs. all PTBs)

p value (all HCWs vs. all PTBs)

All (n = 522)

IGRA− (n = 342)

IGRA+ (n = 180)

p value IGRA− vs IGRA+ HHCs

All (n = 280)

IGRA− (n = 171)

IGRA+ (n = 109)

p value IGRA− vs IGRA+ HCWs

all (n = 856)

Male n (%)

242/522 (46.4)

156/342 (45.6)

86/180 (47.8)


61/277 (22.0)

38/169 (22.5)

23/108 (21.3)


568/856 (66.4)




Mean (SD) age, years

40.6 (15.0)

39.1 (14.8)

43.3 (15.0)


48.0 (9.3)


50.6 (8.9)


47.1 (16.4)




Migration background

 Born in Germany n (%)

266/519 (53.2)

191/340 (56.2)

85/179 (47.5)


244/276 (88.4)

151/169 (89.4)

93/107 (86.9)


433/855 (50.6)




Domestic risk factors

 TB disease of the partner n (%)

61/200 (30.5)

31/130 (23.9)

30/70 (42.9)


5/270 (1.9)

3/163 (1.8)

2/107 (1.9)


58/689 (8.4)




 TB disease of a sibling n (%)

30/443 (6.8)

12/294 (4.1)

18/149 (12.1)


8/269 (3.0)

4/162 (2.5)

4/107 (3.7)


67/747 (9.0)




 TB disease of a child n (%)

16/136 (11.8)

8/82 (9.8)

8/54 (14.8)


3/266 (1.1)

2/163 (1.2)

1/103 (1.0)


33/549 (6.0)




Environmental risk factors

 Tobacco smoking n (%)


232/500 (46.4)

147/326 (45.1)

85/174 (48.9)


61/260 (23.5)

38/165 (23.0)

23/95 (24.2)


57/116 (49.1)





313/505 (62.0)

202/331 (61.0)

111/174 (63.8)


145/262 (55.3)

90/166 (54.2)

55/96 (57.3)


18/116 (15.2)




Medical risk factors

 Anti-TNF treatment n (%)

0/253 (0.0)

0/164 (0.0)

0/89 (0.0)

0/253 (0.0)

0/162 (0.0)

0/91 (0.0)

15/843 (1.8)



 Alcohol dependency n (%)


3/164 (1.8)

12/89 (13.5)



127/846 (15.0)




 Diabetes mellitus n (%)

10/251 (4.0)

4/163 (2.5)

6/88 (6.8)


18/260 (6.9)

14/165 (8.5)

4/95 (4.2)


66/852 (7.8)




 HIV-positivity n (%)

0/234 (0.0)

0/153 (0.0)

0/81 (0.0)

7/250 (2.8)

5/160 (3.1)

2/90 (2.2)


33/835 (4.0)




 Intravenous drug usage n (%)

14/253 (5.5)

2/164 (1.2)

12/89 (13.5)


5/262 (1.9)

4/166 (2.4)

1/96 (1.0)


29/852 (3.4)




Previous mycobacterial exposure and diagnostics

 BCG vaccination n (%)

193/297 (65.0)

122/187 (65.2)

71/110 (64.6)


147/251 (58.6)

88/155 (56.8)

59/96 (61.5)


193/433 (44.6)




HHCs household contacts, HCWs health-care workers, SD standard deviation; BCG bacillus calmette-guerin, TB tuberculosis, IGRA interferon-gamma release assay, IGRA+ positive IGRA result, IGRA− negative IGRA result, QFT quantiferon test, PTBs patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, TST tuberculin skin testing

While a univariate analysis suggested that the rate of IGRA positivity increased with age in the HHCs and HCWs, this was not confirmed in a multivariate logistic regression analysis (Odds ratio 0.99, 95% confidence interval 0.97–1.02; Supplementary material Table 3). IGRA positivity was independent of the person’s migration background. Among the HHCs, IGRA positivity correlated with the size of a simultaneous TST, while previous positive TSTs as reported by HHCs did not predict a positive IGRA. In the HCWs, IGRA positivity was more likely in persons who reported a positive previous TST (86.5%) than in subjects who reported a negative previous skin test (53.3%; p value <0.0001) (Table 2).

The strongest predictor for LTBI after domestic exposure (Supplementary material Table 3) was a partner with PTB (OR 4.39, 95% CI 1.88–10.26). The univariate analysis suggested that a diseased sibling was also associated with LTBI (OR 3.23, 95% CI 1.51–6.90), but this was not confirmed in the multivariate logistic regression analysis (OR 1.23; 95% CI 0.28–5.36). Sexual contact with the partner increased the prevalence of LTBI from 30.8% (no sex) to 53.3% (sexual activity). Other factors associated with a positive IGRA result among HHCs were a history of previous tuberculosis (4.5 vs 0.3%; p = 0.001), IVDU (13.5 vs 1.2%; p < 0.0001), and alcohol dependency (13.5 vs 1.8%; p = 0.0001).

For the HCWs, exposure to family members with PTB was not associated with LTBI, underlining the focus on professional exposure. Caring for coughing patients (p = 0.02) and a duration of >20 years of occupation (p = 0.004) were associated with LTBI, while the use of respirators, surgical masks, negative pressure rooms or white coats were not (Table 2).

Patients with PTB born in Germany (n = 433) were older than tuberculosis patients born abroad (n = 422) with a mean (±SD) age of 51.8 (±16.2) vs. 42.4 (±15.1) years at diagnosis (p < 0.0001). Uninfected and latently infected HHCs showed a balanced gender distribution but PTB was more prominent in men (n = 568, 66.4%). Foreign-born TB patients were more likely to live in an urban environment (90.7%) than Germany born patients (70.6%; p < 0.0001). Domestic exposure to a diseased partner or child increased the risk of LTBI. In patients with PTB, grandparents (9.1%), partners (8.4%) and fathers (8.0%) were most frequently ill. Children (6.0%) and mothers (5.0%) were less affected.

Former tuberculosis patients had a lower body mass index (BMI) at enrolment than HHCs (mean ± SD, 22.9 ± 5.0 vs 25.2 ± 4.8 kg/m2; p < 0.0001), and 21.2% of tuberculosis patients were underweight. Compared to HHCs, the most prevalent medical risk factors for active disease included alcohol dependency (15.0 vs 5.9%; p < 0.0001), glucocorticoid therapy (7.2 vs 2.0%; p = 0.004), and diabetes mellitus (7.8 vs 4.0%; p = 0.04). Of the diabetic patients, 47% were born outside Germany, mirroring the percentage of foreign-born subjects in the whole cohort (49%). Less prominent risk factors were immunosuppressive treatments, TNF-antagonists therapy, chronic renal failure and HIV infection. IVDU was a strong risk factor for LTBI but was not for PTB.

Fewer patients with PTB were vaccinated with M. bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) than HHCs (44.6 vs 65.0%; p value <0.0001).


We identified additional risk factors for LTBI and active pulmonary tuberculosis among HHCs in Germany, a country of low tuberculosis incidence. Our finding that active PTB was reported more frequently in subjects from an urban environment may be seen as a confounding factor. It reflects the demographic structure of German cities, where immigrants in prospering economic regions and cities contribute 9.8–13.4% of the population, compared to 2.8–6.3% in smaller and rural centres [11]. Active PTB was more frequent in males, underweight individuals, patients on glucocorticoid therapy, diabetic patients, and individuals residing in an urban setting. LTBI was most frequently found among family members of patients with PTB, especially when a partner was affected with whom an active sexual relationship existed. LTBI was more prevalent with alcohol and IVDU. In HCWs, only an exposure of more than 20 years was associated with LTBI, while no impact from measures to prevent transmission was found. Of note, there is no standardised protocol for the prevention of transmission in Germany. Most centres use FFP2 respirators for staff and surgical masks for patients. Some staff use a respirator for more than one occasions, some change after every patient contact. Negative pressure isolation is available in very few centres.

Although follow-up was incomplete with 81.6% of enrolled HCWs and 28.4% of HHCs, no contact person developed active tuberculosis within 2 years after exposure, supporting the poor predictive value of IGRA tests found in other trials [8, 12].

In HCWs, only two risk factors for LTBI were identifiable: caring for coughing patients and a longstanding occupational exposure. This is in line with Indian data from a cohort of nursing students. Christopher et al. found that the duration of caring for tuberculosis patients (OR = 1.10; 95% CI 1.04–1.17) and having performed or assisted in sputum collection (OR = 3.57; 95% CI 1.07–11.84) were both significantly associated with TST conversions [13].

In our study, LTBI was found in almost 40% of staff from tuberculosis wards, exceeding the reported frequency in non-specialised nurses in Germany (5.7–8.3%) and France (15.5%) [14, 15] and Portugal (30.5 %) [15]. LTBI remained even more prevalent than in older non-specialised nurses (>55 years) from Germany (25%) or France (33.3%). Only in Portuguese nurses aged ≥45 years, a prevalence of more than 45% was seen, reflecting the higher prevalence of 25/100.000 in Portugal compared to 5–6/100.000 in Germany and France. Our data indicate that in this well-defined, highly exposed population a migration background has no significant impact on the IGRA status and exposure abroad becomes less relevant.

Our study also provides data on LTBI with implications for domestic contact tracing. Of all positive IGRA test results, 55% were found in contacts exposed to a diseased sibling or partner. Sexual activity with the partner increased the probability for LTBI above 50%. Currently, close monitoring of intimate contact persons is recommended but inquisition about a sexual relationship may refine the focus on individuals at risk [10]. In keeping with a recent Norwegian study [16], our analyses support a tracking strategy involving core family members first and farther contact persons second, complementing current algorithms based mainly on proximity and cumulative exposure time [10, 17]. Despite the poor predictive value of a positive IGRA test for the development of active tuberculosis, core contact persons may require a close follow-up [8].

The data also suggest that outside the domestic setting, contacts with substance dependencies warrant thorough investigations due to their increased risk for LTBI. This is in keeping with earlier data comparing IGRA with TST [18]. However, this finding may be population specific, as IVDU appears not to be a risk for LTBI among US prison inmates [19]. Alcohol consumption is associated with both, higher rates of active tuberculosis and medication induced hepatotoxicity—each requiring particular attention after exposure [20].

Surprisingly, IVDU was not associated with active tuberculosis. The correlation of IVDU and LTBI is known from an observational study from Estonia and Latvia and from an observational study in the United States (adjusted OR = 1.34) [21, 22]. Studies suggesting an association between IVDU and active tuberculosis were mostly small, confounded by HIV-infection or lacking control groups [23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28]. According to our data, IVDU is no independent risk factor for the development of active tuberculosis but rather a surrogate marker for precarious social conditions.

This study shows an increased prevalence of tuberculosis in patients with diabetes mellitus in Germany. While there was no correlation in LTBI, the prevalence of diabetes nearly doubled from 4.0% in HHCs to 7.8% in patients with PTB. This phenomenon was found in both foreign-born and Germany born individuals. Patients with PTB were older than HHCs but a multivariate analysis did not detect an age bias. These data require future evaluation. Until now, the epidemiology was considered to be comparable to neighbouring countries like Denmark or Poland, where no association of tuberculosis and diabetes was found [29, 30]. The relationship is not widely acknowledged by German physicians although evidence is accumulating for various other ethnic groups [31, 32, 33, 34, 35].

A limitation of our study is the lack of information on preventive chemotherapy in contact persons. A small number of subjects was offered chemotherapy at the time of recruitment, nevertheless no subject developed active tuberculosis. The poor uptake of preventive chemotherapy has been previously described in Germany [9]. It is associated with the de-centralized management of contact persons who are followed up in the health authority offices of 295 German districts.

Another limitation is that the questionnaires were not verified independently. Some data are based on subjective perception. While recruitment of HCWs and HHCs was prospective, recruitment of patients with PTB was prospective (i.e. patients with active tuberculosis or ongoing antimycobacterial therapy) and retrospective (i.e. patients who were cured from tuberculosis at enrolment). The three cohorts were, therefore, independent and not related to each other. This impairs conclusions about cause and effect of PTB on the identified variables. Although participants were recruited from 18 hospitals and 3 health authorities, the data may not be representative for the whole country. However, given the large number of enrolled individuals, the study provides valid information for risk factors of LTBI and active tuberculosis in a Western European country of low tuberculosis incidence.

In conclusion, our study identified risk groups for LTBI and active tuberculosis based on national epidemiologic data as suggested in the latest global strategy plan for tuberculosis prevention by the WHO. We identified male gender, low body weight, glucocorticoid therapy and diabetes mellitus as risk factors for tuberculosis. Risk factors for LTBI included sexual relationship to a diseased household partner and substance abuse. Among HCWs, only long-term professional exposure to tuberculosis patients was related to LTBI. Despite a high frequency of positive IGRA test results among HHCs and HCWs no contact developed active tuberculosis during a 2-year follow-up period.



For technical and logistic support, the authors are grateful to F. Daduna, J. Döhling, J. Hofmeister, K. Gaede, A. Glaewe, L. Krabbe (Research Center Borstel), D. Mayer (Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Ulm), S. Jaletzky (Klinik Dr. Hancken, Stade), D. Kraus-Leonhäuser, C. Skrybeck (both Municipal Health Authority, Frankfurt), K. Meywaldt-Walter, G. Reinke (both Municipal Health Authority Hamburg), D. Lehnert (Evanglische Lungenklinik, Berlin), N. Vorreiter (Lungenfachklinik, Immenhausen), J. Paepke (Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring, Berlin), J. Reppe and L. Tittmann (Biobank PopGen, Kiel). PopGen is a member of the popgen 2.0 network (P2 N) which is supported by a grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research (reference 01EY1103).

*Investigators in the TB or not TB consortium in Germany were: M. Allewelt (Evanglische Lungenklinik, Berlin), K. Avsar, A. Neher (Asklepios Fachkliniken München-Gauting, Munich), T. Bauer (Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring, Berlin), S. Blaas (Klinik Donaustauf), M. Fischer (private practice Fürth), S. Ehlers, C. Hölscher, S. Niemann, N. Reiling (all Research Center Borstel), S. Ehlers-Tenenbaum (Thoraxklinik Heidelberg University), P. Hammerl (Lungenfachklinik, Immenhausen), M. von Heinz (Charité University Medicine Berlin), S. Junghanß (Fachkrankenhaus Coswig), S. Kohr (Agaplesion Pneumologische Klinik Waldhof, Elgershausen, Greifenstein), D. Kraus-Leonhäuser, C. Skrybeck (both Municipal Health Authority, Frankfurt), M. Krawczak, W. Lieb (both Christian Albrecht University Kiel), F. Kunitz (Municipal Health Authority, Berlin), B. Lehnigk (Asklepios Nordseeklinik Sylt), V. Leucht (Elbland Reha Großenhain), C.G. Meyer, T. Thye (both Bernhard-Nocht Institut, Hamburg), K. Meywaldt-Walter, G. Reinke (all Municipal Health Authority Hamburg), J. Meywirth (Helios Lungenklinik Diekholzen), M. Mowe (private practice, Iserlohn), R. Muetterlein (Bezirkskrankenhaus Parsberg), M. Pletz (University Hospital Jena), J. Rademacher (Hannover Medical School), C. Priegnitz (Krankenhaus Bethanien Solingen, Solingen), A. Quassem (Lungenfachklinik Lostau), B. Schaaf (Klinikum Dortmund), K.D. Schneider (KRH Klinikum Siloah, Hannover), S. Stenger (University Hospital Ulm), T. Weiß (Helios Klinikum Schwerin).

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was carried out by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, references 01KI0784 and 01KI1007B) funded research consortium on “Pulmonary Tuberculosis–Host and Pathogen Determinants of Resistance and Disease Progression-(TB or not TB)”.


CL had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data, the accuracy of the data analysis and the content of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

CH reports personal fees from AstraZeneca, Janssen, Genzyme, Hexal outside the submitted work. RD reports personal fees from Cellestis, Oxford Immunotec, Pharmore and Generium outside the submitted work. TS reports grants from German Ministry of Health during the conduct of the study. CL reports personal fees from Chiesi, Gilead, Abbvie, MSD, Becton–Dickinson, Janssen outside the submitted work. GS, OB, SG, UG, HHU report no conflicting interests.

Role of the sponsor

This study was conducted by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, references 01KI0784 and 01KI1007B) funded research consortium on “Pulmonary Tuberculosis–Host and Pathogen Determinants of Resistance and Disease Progression- (TB or not TB)”. The sponsor had no influence on design and conduct of the study, nor on data acquisition, interpretation and publication.

Supplementary material

15010_2016_963_MOESM1_ESM.doc (186 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 186 kb)


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© The Author(s) 2016

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Herzmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Giovanni Sotgiu
    • 3
  • Oswald Bellinger
    • 4
  • Roland Diel
    • 5
    • 6
  • Silke Gerdes
    • 7
  • Udo Goetsch
    • 8
  • Helga Heykes-Uden
    • 7
  • Tom Schaberg
    • 9
  • Christoph Lange
    • 1
    • 10
    • 11
    • 12
    Email author
  • For the TB or not TB consortium
  1. 1.Division of Clinical Infectious DiseasesResearch Center BorstelBorstelGermany
  2. 2.Center for Clinical StudiesResearch Center BorstelBorstelGermany
  3. 3.Epidemiology and Medical Statistics Unit, Department of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  4. 4.DAHW German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief AssociationWürzburgGermany
  5. 5.Institute of EpidemiologyUniversity Medical Hospital Schleswig–HolsteinCampus KielGermany
  6. 6.LungenClinic Grosshansdorf, Airway Research Center NorthGroßhansdorfGermany
  7. 7.Municipal Health Authority HannoverHanoverGermany
  8. 8.Municipal Health Authority FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  9. 9.Center of PneumologyAgaplesion Deaconess Hospital RotenburgRotenburgGermany
  10. 10.German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)Clinical Tuberculosis UnitBorstelGermany
  11. 11.International Health/Infectious DiseasesUniversity of LübeckLübeckGermany
  12. 12.Department of MedicineKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

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