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Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jun 15;59(6):800-6. doi: 10.1002/art.23705.

Effectiveness of the combination of a whole-blood interferon-gamma assay and the tuberculin skin test in detecting latent tuberculosis infection in rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving adalimumab therapy.

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National Yang-Ming University, Taipei City, Taiwan.



To investigate QuantiFERON-tuberculosis Gold (QFT-G) assay and tuberculin skin test (TST) for latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with adalimumab.


We prospectively followed up 43 RA patients who received adalimumab therapy and underwent serial TSTs and QFT-G assays. TST was performed using Mantoux method and QFT-G assay was examined by measuring interferon-gamma levels in whole blood samples that were incubated with early secretary antigenic target-6 and culture filtrate protein 10.


Before starting adalimumab therapy, 8 RA patients (18.6%) had positive and 35 (81.4%) had negative TST results. All 8 RA patients with positive TST results were diagnosed as LTBI and received isoniazid prophylaxis (INHP) 1 month before starting adalimumab therapy. None of these 8 RA patients developed active TB 2 years after completing INHP. A high rate (10 [37.0%] patients) of TST conversion was observed among 27 patients who had completed 12-month adalimumab therapy. Of these 10 patients with TST conversion, 2 patients had positive QFT-G results and 1 developed active TB disease. Among 17 RA patients who did not have TST conversion after 12-month adalimumab therapy, 1 patient who had a positive QFT-G result developed active TB disease. Of all 43 RA patients who received adalimumab therapy, 4 (9.3%) developed active TB after starting adalimumab therapy.


The application of TST for detecting LTBI is limited in RA patients by the frequent presence of anergy. Combined QFT-G assay and TST can aid in detecting LTBI in RA patients receiving adalimumab therapy.

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