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Arch Med Sci. 2013 Feb 21;9(1):112-7. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2013.33352.

Identification of latent tuberculosis infection in rheumatic patients under consideration for treatment with anti-TNF-α agents.

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1
Department of Medical Microbiology, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Immunosuppressive therapy with anti-tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) agents in rheumatic patients modulates the immune system and may increase the risk of reactivating infections that are normally maintained in a latent state, such as tuberculosis. The purpose of this study was to analyse the value of QuantiFERON TB Gold In-Tube (QFT IT) and tuberculin skin test (TST) in BCG vaccinated patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis who were qualified to receive TNF-α blockers.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:

Ninety patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis were included in the study. The control group consisted of 20 healthy participants. Chest X-ray, TST and QFT IT were carried out in all persons.

RESULTS:

In rheumatic patients positive results of QFT IT and TST tests were identified in 15 cases (16.7%) whereas negative results of both tests were detected in 56 cases (62.2%). In the group of examined patients, 11 (12.2%) had QFT IT-/TST+ test results. In patients with QFT IT+/TST- status one active tuberculosis case was detected. In the control group QFT IT positive results were found in 4 cases (20%) and TST positive in 11 cases (55%). Treatment with TNF-α blockers was introduced in 26 rheumatology patients with the following test status: 3 with QFT IT+/TST+; 20 with QFT IT-/TST-; 3 with QFT IT-/TST+.

CONCLUSIONS:

In the BCG vaccinated population the QFT IT assay may potentially improve the identification and selection for therapy for latent TB infection before treatment with anti-TNF agents.

KEYWORDS:

QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube; anti-TNF-α therapy; latent tuberculosis; rheumatoid arthritis; tuberculin skin test

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