Monday, December 04, 2006


Bacterial and opportunistic infections during anti-TNF therapy.

Bacterial and opportunistic infections during anti-TNF therapy.

December 2006

Strangfeld A,
Listing J.
German Rheumatism Research Centre, Epidemiology Unit, Chariteplatz 1, D-10117 Berlin, Germany.

Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) plays a crucial role in host defence against bacterial infections. Summarizing the results, the findings of immunological and clinical research suggest a higher infection risk in rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis patients receiving anti-TNF treatment. This is especially true for granulomatous infections in patients treated with the monoclonal TNF-alpha antibodies infliximab or adalimumab. Furthermore, patients treated with TNF inhibitors have a higher susceptibility to infections because of their higher active and more severe disease. Therefore, patients receiving anti-TNF treatment should be closely monitored for serious infections. A rapid and sufficient treatment of infections that are not mild and transient is recommended. There are atypical signs and symptoms as well as atypical pathogen that should be considered. Patients should be educated about how to avoid infectious complications.

PMID: 17127203 [PubMed - in process]

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Anti-TNF antibody therapy in rheumatoid arthritis and the risk of serious infections and malignancies: systematic review and meta-analysis of rare harmful effects in randomized controlled trials.

May 2006

Bongartz T,
Sutton AJ,
Sweeting MJ,
Buchan I,
Matteson EL,
Montori V.
Division of Rheumatology and Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.

CONTEXT: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) plays an important role in host defense and tumor growth control. Therefore, anti-TNF antibody therapies may increase the risk of serious infections and malignancies.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the extent to which anti-TNF antibody therapies may increase the risk of serious infections and malignancies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by performing a meta-analysis to derive estimates of sparse harmful events occurring in randomized trials of anti-TNF therapy.

DATA SOURCES: A systematic literature search of EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and electronic abstract databases of the annual scientific meetings of both the European League Against Rheumatism and the American College of Rheumatology was conducted through December 2005. This search was complemented with interviews of the manufacturers of the 2 licensed anti-TNF antibodies.

STUDY SELECTION: We included randomized, placebo-controlled trials of the 2 licensed anti-TNF antibodies (infliximab and adalimumab) used for 12 weeks or more in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Nine trials met our inclusion criteria, including 3493 patients who received anti-TNF antibody treatment and 1512 patients who received placebo.

DATA EXTRACTION: Data on study characteristics to assess study quality and intention-to-treat data for serious infections and malignancies were abstracted. Published information from the trials was supplemented by direct contact between principal investigators and industry sponsors.

DATA SYNTHESIS: We calculated a pooled odds ratio (Mantel-Haenszel methods with a continuity correction designed for sparse data) for malignancies and serious infections (infection that requires antimicrobial therapy and/or hospitalization) in anti-TNF-treated patients vs placebo patients. We estimated effects for high and low doses separately. The pooled odds ratio for malignancy was 3.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-9.1) and for serious infection was 2.0 (95% CI, 1.3-3.1). Malignancies were significantly more common in patients treated with higher doses compared with patients who received lower doses of anti-TNF antibodies. For patients treated with anti-TNF antibodies in the included trials, the number needed to harm was 154 (95% CI, 91-500) for 1 additional malignancy within a treatment period of 6 to 12 months. For serious infections, the number needed to harm was 59 (95% CI, 39-125) within a treatment period of 3 to 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence of an increased risk of serious infections and a dose-dependent increased risk of malignancies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with anti-TNF antibody therapy. The formal meta-analysis with pooled sparse adverse events data from randomized controlled trials serves as a tool to assess harmful drug effects.

PMID: 16705109 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Rates of serious infection, including site-specific and bacterial intracellular infection, in rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy: results from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register.

August 2006

Dixon WG,
Watson K,
Lunt M,
Hyrich KL,
Silman AJ,
Symmons DP;
British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register.
British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register Control Centre Consortium, Manchester, UK.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the rate of serious infection is higher in anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF)-treated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients compared with RA patients treated with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

METHODS: This was a national prospective observational study of 7,664 anti-TNF-treated and 1,354 DMARD-treated patients with severe RA from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register. All serious infections, stratified by site and organism, were included in the analysis.

RESULTS: Between December 2001 and September 2005, there were 525 serious infections in the anti-TNF-treated cohort and 56 in the comparison cohort (9,868 and 1,352 person-years of followup, respectively). The incidence rate ratio (IRR), adjusted for baseline risk, for the anti-TNF-treated cohort compared with the comparison cohort was 1.03 (95% confidence interval 0.68-1.57). However, the frequency of serious skin and soft tissue infections was increased in anti-TNF-treated patients, with an adjusted IRR of 4.28 (95% confidence interval 1.06-17.17). There was no difference in infection risk between the 3 main anti-TNF drugs. Nineteen serious bacterial intracellular infections occurred, exclusively in patients in the anti-TNF-treated cohort.

CONCLUSION: In patients with active RA, anti-TNF therapy was not associated with increased risk of overall serious infection compared with DMARD treatment, after adjustment for baseline risk. In contrast, the rate of serious skin and soft tissue infections was increased, suggesting an important physiologic role of TNF in host defense in the skin and soft tissues beyond that in other tissues.

PMID: 16868999 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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