Inflammation is often a protective reaction against harmful foreign agents. However, in many disease conditions, the mechanisms behind the inflammatory response are poorly understood. Often times, the inflammation causes adverse effects, such as joint pain, abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Thus, many treatments aim to inhibit the inflammatory response in order to control adverse symptoms. Such treatments include TNFα inhibitors. However, a major risk associated with drugs inhibiting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) is serious infection, including tuberculosis (TB).
Anti-TNFα therapy is used to treat patients with Crohn’s disease, for which the risk of tuberculosis may be even more concerning. Recent literature suggests Crohn’s might involve Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), an intracellular TB-like bacterium. This study seeks to investigate the risk of developing TB in patients with Crohn’s disease treated with TNFα inhibitors. A meta-analysis synthesized existing evidence. Evidence came from published randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trials of TNFα inhibitors for treatment of adult Crohn’s disease.
Twenty-three trials were identified, including 5,669 patients. The risk of tuberculosis was significantly increased in anti-TNFα treated patients, with a risk difference of 0.028 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.0011-0.055). The odds ratio was 4.85 (95% CI, 1.02-22.99) when all studies were included and 5.85 (95% CI, 1.13-30.38) when studies reporting zero tuberculosis cases were excluded.
The risk of tuberculosis is increased in patients with Crohn’s disease treated with TNFα inhibitors. The medical community should be alerted about this risk and the potential for TNFα inhibitor usage favoring granulomatous infections and worsening the patient condition.
Naser, Saleh A.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Medicine
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Cao, Brent L., "Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Tuberculosis, TNFα Inhibitors, and Crohn's Disease" (2018). Honors in the Major Theses. 360.
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