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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012 Jul;18(7):670-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03674.x. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonist drugs and leishmaniasis in Europe.

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Institut für Tropenmedizin, Eberhard Karls Universität, Wilhelmstrasse, Tübingen, Germany.


Leishmaniasis is endemic in Europe and the prevalence of latent infection in the Mediterranean region is high. Reports describing opportunistic leishmaniasis in European patients treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha antagonist drugs are rapidly accumulating. For other granulomatous infections, risk of opportunistic disease varies by mode of TNF-alpha antagonism. This study explores whether this may also be the case for leishmaniasis. We ascertained the relative frequency of exposure to different TNF antagonist drugs among published cases of opportunistic leishmaniasis in Europe and compared this with the prescription of these drugs in Europe. We found that risk of opportunistic leishmaniasis is higher in patients receiving anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies (infliximab or adalimumab) compared with patients treated with the TNF-receptor construct etanercept. Clinicians may want to consider these observations, which suggest that etanercept should be favoured over anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies in individuals living in or visiting areas endemic for leishmaniasis until evidence from prospective research is available. A European adverse event reporting system is required to identify rare opportunistic infections associated with immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory biotherapies.

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