ObjectivesTo systematically review the evidence for the impact of study design and setting on the interpretation of tuberculosis (TB) transmission using clustering derived from Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Units-Variable Number Tandem Repeats (MIRU-VNTR) strain typing.
Data sourcesMEDLINE, EMBASE, CINHAL, Web of Science and Scopus were searched for articles published before 21st October 2014.
Review methodsStudies in humans that reported the proportion of clustering of TB isolates by MIRU-VNTR were included in the analysis. Univariable meta-regression analyses were conducted to assess the influence of study design and setting on the proportion of clustering.
ResultsThe search identified 27 eligible articles reporting clustering between 0% and 63%. The number of MIRU-VNTR loci typed, requiring consent to type patient isolates (as a proxy for sampling fraction), the TB incidence and the maximum cluster size explained 14%, 14%, 27% and 48% of between-study variation, respectively, and had a significant association with the proportion of clustering.
ConclusionsAlthough MIRU-VNTR typing is being adopted worldwide there is a paucity of data on how study design and setting may influence estimates of clustering. We have highlighted study design variables for consideration in the design and interpretation of future studies.
SUBMITTER: Mears J