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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Jun;64(6):1035-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.09.734. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

The risk of infection and malignancy with tumor necrosis factor antagonists in adults with psoriatic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.



There is a need to better understand the safety of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors in patients with psoriatic disease in whom TNF inhibitors are frequently used as monotherapy.


We sought to examine the risks of infection and malignancy with the use of TNF antagonists in adult patients with psoriatic disease.


We conducted a systematic search for trials of TNF antagonists for adults with plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We included randomized, placebo-controlled trials of etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, and certolizumab for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Twenty of 820 identified studies with a total of 6810 patients were included. Results were calculated using fixed effects models and reported as pooled odds ratios.


Odds ratios for overall infection and serious infection over a mean of 17.8 weeks were 1.18 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.33) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.40-1.21), respectively. When adjusting for patient-years, the incidence rate ratio for overall infection was 1.01 (95% CI 0.92-1.11). The odds ratio for malignancy was 1.48 (95% CI 0.71-3.09) and 1.26 (95% CI 0.39-4.15) when nonmelanoma skin cancer was excluded.


Short duration of follow-up and rarity of malignancies and serious infections are limitations.


There is a small increased risk of overall infection with the short-term use of TNF antagonists for psoriasis that may be attributable to differences in follow-up time between treatment and placebo groups. There was no evidence of an increased risk of serious infection and a statistically significant increased risk in cancer was not observed with short-term use of TNF inhibitors.

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