Infections and malignancies risks related to TNF-α-blocking agents in pediatric inflammatory bowel diseases

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Oct;13(10):957-961. doi: 10.1080/17474124.2019.1663173. Epub 2019 Sep 6.


Introduction: Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-blocking agents are drugs approved for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). Infliximab and adalimumab are approved for the treatment of IBD in the pediatric setting with the improvement of therapeutic management. Biological agents, also in the pediatric population, can be administered either alone or in combination with immunomodulators. Their use has raised safety concerns regarding the risk of infections and malignancies.Areas covered: A broad review of the safety concerns for the use of anti-TNF-α drugs in children with IBD was performed, and information regarding the risk of infections and malignancies were updated, also in comparison with the safety of traditional drugs such as steroids and/or immunosuppressants.Expert commentary: Anti-TNF-α drugs have shown favorable safety profiles, and adalimumab treatment is associated with lower immunogenicity compared with infliximab. Heightened awareness and vigilant surveillance leading to prompt diagnosis and treatment are important for optimal management.

Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; TNF-α; biological therapy; child; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / epidemiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Opportunistic Infections / chemically induced*
  • Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors / adverse effects*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Crohn's disease
  • Pediatric ulcerative colitis