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Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Nov;26(11):1969-71. Epub 2007 Mar 6.

Development of sarcoidosis in etanercept-treated rheumatoid arthritis patients.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, University Hospitals Leuven, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


We report two rheumatoid arthritis patients developing sarcoidosis possibly induced by etanercept. Both women, aged 46 and 53, had erosive, rheumatoid-factor-positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for 7 and 6 years, respectively. The eldest had received infliximab for over a year with good response, which was stopped because of a perfusion reaction. She developed a cough and dyspnea after 6 months of etanercept treatment. The other developed erythema nodosum and a plaque lesion on the right arm after 1 year of etanercept. Imaging showed, in both cases, mediastinal adenopathies. Biopsies were compatible with sarcoidosis. Etanercept withdrawal led to a complete remission. Recently, there have been reports of noninfectious granulomatous syndromes in patients receiving etanercept for a variety of diseases. In our cases, the temporal association with etanercept therapy and the complete remission after suspension of etanercept suggest a triggering role of this agent. Possible mechanisms of action and supporting evidence are discussed.

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