Previous studies have suggested that there may be an association between some immune-mediated diseases and risk of tuberculosis (TB).
We analyzed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the whole of England (1999 to 2011), and a similar database (the Oxford Record Linkage Study (ORLS)) for a region of southern England in an earlier period. Rate ratios for TB were determined, comparing immune-mediated disease cohorts with comparison cohorts.
In the all-England dataset, there were significantly elevated risks of TB after hospital admission for the following individual immune-mediated diseases: Addison's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic active hepatitis, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease, dermatomyositis, Goodpasture's syndrome, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), myasthenia gravis, myxedema, pemphigoid, pernicious anemia, polyarteritis nodosa, polymyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), thyrotoxicosis and ulcerative colitis. Particularly high levels of risk were found for Addison’s disease (rate ratio (RR) = 11.9 (95% CI 9.5 to 14.7)), Goodpasture’s syndrome (RR = 10.8 (95% CI 4.0 to 23.5)), SLE (RR = 9.4 (95% CI 7.9 to 11.1)), polymyositis (RR = 8.0 (95% CI 4.9 to 12.2)), polyarteritis nodosa (RR = 6.7 (95% CI 3.2 to 12.4)), dermatomyositis (RR = 6.6 (95% CI 3.0 to 12.5)), scleroderma (RR = 6.1 (95% CI 4.4 to 8.2)) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (RR = 5.1 (95% CI 3.4 to 7.4)).
These two databases show that patients with some immune-mediated diseases have an increased risk of TB, although we cannot explicitly state the direction of risk or exclude confounding. Further study of these associations is warranted, and these findings may aid TB screening, control and treatment policies.
After service in the British SAS Regiment the author became a physician and then an orthopaedic surgeon.
He has held professorial positions in Canada, Vietnam and the United States, practiced and taught orthopaedic surgery in three continents and in several wars.
He has extensive experience as an expert witness in court. Somewhere along the way, time was found to operate a four hundred acre mixed farm, a one hundred seat restaurant and to obtain a licence as a flying instructor.
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