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Dig Liver Dis. 2012 Oct;44(10):880-2. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Previous immunosuppressive therapy is a risk factor for immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in Whipple's disease.

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Coeliac Centre/First Dept of Internal Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, University of Pavia, Italy.



Whipple's disease is a rare chronic infection caused by Tropheryma whipplei. Although most patients respond to antibiotics, in some of them the start of the treatment is followed by recurrence of inflammation. Since polymerase chain reaction is negative for Tropheryma whipplei, this reinflammation cannot be a relapse of Whipple's disease itself. Very recently, it has been recognised as a complication of Whipple's disease and defined immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Our aim is to study the prevalence and the clinical features of IRIS in Italian patients with Whipple's disease.


Evidence of IRIS was retrospectively revaluated in the clinical notes of 22 patients with Whipple's disease. Patients with no evidence of IRIS served as controls for the clinical findings.


Recurrence of arthralgia and/or fever allowed a diagnosis of IRIS in 5/22 patients. One patient died. Previous immunosuppressive therapy was found in all patients with IRIS but only in 7/17 controls (Fisher test, p=0.039). Age at diagnosis and diagnostic delay were higher in patients with IRIS compared to controls. However, statistical significance was not reached.


IRIS is a frequent complication of Whipple's disease and it can be fatal. The risk of IRIS is greatly increased in patients previously treated with immunosuppressive therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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