Tuberculosis associated with blocking agents against tumor necrosis factor-alpha--California, 2002-2003

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Aug 6;53(30):683-6.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that tuberculosis (TB) disease is a potential adverse reaction from treatment with the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) antagonists infliximab (Remicade), etanercept (Enbrel), and adalimumab (Humira); the three products are labeled accordingly. These products work by blocking TNF-alpha, an inflammatory cytokine, and are approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis and other selected autoimmune diseases. TNF-alpha is associated with the immunology and pathophysiology of certain infectious diseases, notably TB; blocking TNF-alphacan allow TB disease to emerge from latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. In 2002, a California county health department reported three cases of TB disease occurring in association with infliximab therapy. This report summarizes those cases and nine subsequently reported cases and provides interim recommendations for TB prevention and management in recipients of these blocking agents. Health-care providers should take steps to prevent TB in immunocompromised patients and remain vigilant for TB as a cause of unexplained febrile illness.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Immunologic Factors / adverse effects*
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab