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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1998 Jun;27(6):360-5.

Alpha-interferon-induced arthritis: clinical presentation treatment, and prevention.

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Rheumatology Service, Shaare-Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.



The therapeutic applications of alpha-interferon (IFN) have expanded greatly to include chronic viral hepatitis and malignant disorders. Autoimmune phenomena occur frequently with IFN therapy, but arthritis is uncommon. We describe the clinical features and treatment of IFN-induced arthritis.


A patient with chronic myelogenous leukemia who developed arthritis secondary to IFN therapy is presented. The clinical features and treatment of this condition in 37 additional cases are reviewed.


The most common clinical presentation was symmetric polyarthritis. This was associated with antinuclear antibodies in 72% of patients and rheumatoid factor in 34%. Cessation of IFN, with or without the addition of antiinflammatory or remittive agents, resulted in remission of arthritis in 89% and 71% of the cases, respectively. Restarting IFN therapy resulted in recurrence of arthritis in 63%. In the patient described in this report, recurrence of arthritis was prevented by coadministration of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and prednisone.


Arthritis is an uncommon complication of IFN therapy; but it may lead to cessation of this treatment modality. In such cases, coadministration of a remittive agent such as HCQ may enable reinstitution of IFN therapy without recurrence of arthritis.

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