" Serious skin & soft tissue infections in rheumatoid arthritis patients taking anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha drugs: A nested case-control study"

Ngoc J. Wasson, Cara D. Varley, Pascal Schwab, Rongwei Fu, Kevin L. Winthrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNF) drugs are very effective for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but may increase the risk of serious bacterial infections. We assessed the association between the risk of serious skin and soft tissue infections (SSSTI) and the use of these agents in rheumatoid arthritis patients (RA).Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study among rheumatoid arthritis patients in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 from 2000-2008. We identified rheumatoid arthritis patients with SSSTI, matched them to three sets of RA controls and used conditional logistic regression to compare the risk of SSSTI between patients treated and those not treated with an anti-TNF drug, after adjusting for known confounders and important covariates. Limited by the design, we could not assess (absolute) risk but only relative risk in terms of association.Results: Among the 97 cases and 291 controls, 90 percent were male, 62 percent white, with a mean age of 63 years. Twenty percent received anti-TNF drugs during the study period. Thirty-nine percent of cases and 15 percent of controls died, (OR 3.5, 95% CI: 2.033, 6.11, p <0.01). Diabetes mellitus (37%), kidney disease (16%) and a history of skin infections (27%) were common among cases. Based on conditional logistic regression, anti-TNF use was not significantly associated with skin and soft tissue infections (OR 1.1, 95% CI: 0.61-2.03, p = 0.92). However, patients with diabetes mellitus (OR 2.5, 95% CI: 1.53-4.13, p = 0.01) or a prior history of skin infection (OR 5.7, 95% CI: 2.87-11.43, p <0.01) were more likely to have skin and soft tissue infections.Conclusion: Use of anti-TNF therapy among RA patients was not associated with an increased risk of SSSTI, but patients with diabetes mellitus and those with a history of prior skin infection were significantly more likely to have SSSTI and mortality was higher among cases than controls in this veteran cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number533
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 11 2013

Keywords

  • Anti-TNF therapy
  • Arthritis
  • Infectious skin diseases
  • Rheumatoid
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases

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