Open Access Research article

Latent tuberculosis infection, tuberculin skin test and vitamin D status in contacts of tuberculosis patients: a cross-sectional and case-control study

Alberto Arnedo-Pena14*, José Vicente Juan-Cerdán2, Angeles Romeu-Garcia1, Daniel Garcia-Ferrer2, Rita Holguín-Gómez3, Jesús Iborra-Millet2, Concepción Herrero-Carot1, María Jesús Sanchis Piñana2, Juan Bellido-Blasco14, José Antonio Ferrero-Vega2, Lourdes Safont Adsuara1, Esther Silvestre Silvestre1, Noemi Meseguer Ferrer1 and Vicenta Rodrigo Bartual5

Author Affiliations

1 Epidemiology Division. Public Health Center Castellón, Spain

2 Laboratory of Biochemical. Hospital General. Castellón, Spain

3 Preventive Medicine. Hospital La Plana. Vila-real, Spain

4 CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain

5 Preventive Medicine. Hospital Provincial. Castellón, Spain

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:349  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-349

Published: 15 December 2011



Deficient serum vitamin D levels have been associated with incidence of tuberculosis (TB), and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). However, to our knowledge, no studies on vitamin D status and tuberculin skin test (TST) conversion have been published to date. The aim of this study was to estimate the associations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D) status with LTBI prevalence and TST conversion in contacts of active TB in Castellon (Spain).


The study was designed in two phases: cross-sectional and case-control. From November 2009 to October 2010, contacts of 42 TB patients (36 pulmonary, and 6 extra-pulmonary) were studied in order to screen for TB. LTBI and TST conversion cases were defined following TST, clinical, analytic and radiographic examinations. Serum 25(OH)D levels were measured by electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA) on a COBAS® 410 ROCHE® analyzer. Logistic regression models were used in the statistical analysis.


The study comprised 202 people with a participation rate of 60.1%. Only 20.3% of the participants had a sufficient serum 25(OH)D (≥ 30 ng/ml) level. In the cross-sectional phase, 50 participants had LTBI and no association between LTBI status and serum 25(OH)D was found. After 2 months, 11 out of 93 negative LTBI participants, without primary prophylaxis, presented TST conversion with initial serum 25(OH)D levels: a:19.4% (7/36): < 20 ng/ml, b:12.5% (4/32):20-29 ng/ml, and c:0%(0/25) ≥ 30 ng/ml. A sufficient serum 25(OH)D level was a protector against TST conversion a: Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.00; b: OR = 0.49 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07-2.66); and c: OR = 0.10 (95% CI 0.00-0.76), trends p = 0.019, adjusted for high exposure and sputum acid-fast bacilli positive index cases. The mean of serum level 25(OH)D in TST conversion cases was lower than controls,17.5 ± 5.6 ng/ml versus 25.9 ± 13.7 ng/ml (p = 0.041).


The results suggest that sufficient serum 25(OH)D levels protect against TST conversion.

Tuberculosis; Vitamin D; Latent tuberculosis infection; Tuberculin skin test conversion; Case-control study