The use of anti-TNF drugs for rheumatic diseases has increased in recent years. Several studies have reported an increased risk of reactivation of tuberculosis (TB) with anti-TNF agents.
The aim of this study was to present the follow-up results of a single center from Turkey, a country with a high rate of active and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), for INH chemoprophylaxis in patients receiving anti-TNF-α therapy for rheumatic diseases infection.
In this prospective observational study, consenting patients who were to be administered an anti-TNF agent for a rheumatic disease were evaluated for the presence of active infection or LTBI by a chest X-ray and a tuberculin skin test. Patients with LTBI were given chemoprophylaxis 1 month prior to commencement of anti-TNF treatment. All patients were followed-up bimonthly for any signs of pulmonary or extrapulmonary TB.
A total of 73 patients, 23 female (31.5 %) and 50 male (68.5 %), with a mean age of 41.0 ± 13.1 years (18–78) were enrolled in the study. Overall, 44 patients (60.3 %) had ankylosing spondylitis, 18 (24.7 %) had rheumatoid arthritis, 7 (9.6 %) had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and 3 (4.1 %) had psoriatic arthritis. LTBI was identified in 58 patients all of whom received chemoprophylaxis for 9 months. None of the patients in the study developed any signs of tuberculosis reactivation during follow-up.
TST is a reliable and cost-effective method for the diagnosis of LTBI in patients prior to anti-TNF therapy. Moreover, chemoprophylaxis with INH seems to be effective for the prevention of TB reactivation in individuals with LTBI.