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Keywords:

  • biologic therapy;
  • granulomatous inflammation;
  • sarcoidosis;
  • tumor necrosis factor alpha

A 59-year-old female with rheumatoid arthritis on etanercept therapy presented with a 7-cm-large subcutaneous forearm mass. Multiple smaller nodules subsequently developed on the upper and lower extremities. Except for a new cough, the patient was systemically well. Biopsy of the mass showed sarcoidal type granulomatous inflammation with nodular aggregations of non-necrotizing epithelioid histiocytes in the subcutis. A chest computed tomography (CT) scan showed mediastinal adenopathy consistent with pulmonary sarcoidosis. Etanercept was discontinued, and the patient was started on adalimumab for rheumatoid arthritis control. The cutaneous nodules fully resolved in 6 months with no additional treatment. A 4-month follow-up CT scan showed significant regression of mediastinal adenopathy. The patient has since been maintained on adalimumab therapy for 2 years with no recurrence of sarcoid-like manifestations. Biologic response modifiers targeting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) are effective treatments of chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. TNFα represents a major cytokine in granuloma formation, and TNFα inhibitors are sometimes efficacious in the treatment of sarcoidosis. Paradoxically, there is a small volume of literature implicating TNFα inhibitors in the development of sarcoid-like disease. We present this case to promote the recognition of TNFα inhibitor-induced sarcoidosis and to illustrate the wide clinicopathologic differential of sarcoidal type granulomas.

Burns AM, Green PJ, Pasternak S. Etanercept-induced cutaneous and pulmonary sarcoid-like granulomas resolving with adalimumab.