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Joint Bone Spine. 2009 Oct;76(5):508-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2009.01.007. Epub 2009 May 21.

Increased prevalence of allergic sensitisation in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-TNFalpha.

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Rheumatology Department, Coimbra University Hospital, Praceta Mota Pinto, 3000-075 Coimbra, Portugal.



Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) has emerged as a therapeutic target in chronic inflammatory disorders characterised by a Th1 type immune response, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The presence of allergic disease in these patients could be influenced both by the presence of RA and anti-TNFalpha therapy. Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence of sensitisation to airborne allergens and allergic disease in RA patients, with and without anti-TNFalpha treatment.


RA patients with (N=20) and without (N=20) anti-TNFalpha therapy (groups T and R) were enrolled. Healthy controls (N=60, group C) were randomly selected from the general population. All participants answered a standardised questionnaire to assess the prevalence of allergic disease and had skin prick tests (SPT) with a standard panel of airborne allergen extracts.


Significant differences were found in the prevalence of positive SPT between groups T and R (70% vs 35%, p=0.027) and groups T and C (70% vs 36.7%, p=0.009), but not between groups R and C. The prevalence of allergic disease was similar in the three groups. Groups T and R had similar gender and age distribution, disease duration, disease activity score (DAS28), erythrocyte sedimentation rate and serum C-reactive protein.


Increased prevalence of sensitisation to airborne allergens in RA patients treated with anti-TNFalpha was found. The clinical impact of the positive SPT following anti-TNFalpha initiation has now to be assessed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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