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Abstract

Background  Psoriasis patients who are treated with tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha antagonists are at increased risk of reactivation of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and should be adequately screened and monitored during active treatment.

Objectives  To evaluate in a prospective study, the performance of Quantiferon-TB-Gold in tube (QFT) in vitro assay compared to the conventional tuberculin skin test (TST) in detecting LTBI among a cohort of non-BCG-vaccinated patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis during long-term treatment (12 months) with TNF-alpha antagonists.

Methods  A total of 50 patients underwent QFT and TST testing at baseline and after 6 and 12 months of continuous anti-TNF-alpha treatment. Diagnosis of LTBI was made on the basis of a positive QFT result and negative chest-radiographic and microbiological assays. Patients with LTBI were subjected to standard isoniazid chemoprophylaxis and after 1 month, they resumed anti-TNF-alpha treatment with subsequent QFT and TST testing after 6 months. In all the cases, a follow-up period of 12 months was observed.

Results  During the 12-month-study period, 14% of patients presented a QFT conversion. During active anti-TNF-alpha treatment, a QFT conversion was observed in 10% of patients (five cases). Agreement between QFT and TST was moderate (κ = 0.408) at screening, good (κ = 0.734) after 6 months and fair (κ = 0.328) after 12 months of treatment. A total of 18% of patients presented a positive, discordant TST during the study period.

Conclusions  A single-test QFT-based screening strategy for LTBI in psoriasis patients receiving long-term anti-TNF-alpha treatment could reduce the incidence of false-positive LTBI cases, preventing unnecessary TB chemoprophylaxis.