Differences in ethnic backgrounds as well as in medical and socioeconomic status often affect both the efficacy and adverse effects of medications. Recent data suggest an increased risk of opportunistic infections, especially tuberculosis (TB), among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients receiving infliximab, a chimeric monoclonal anti-tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) antibody. In this regard, the annual incidence of TB is approximately five times higher in Japan than in the United States. Furthermore, since Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccination is mandatory in childhood when the skin test for purified protein derivative (PPD) is negative, a high incidence of false-positive PPD skin tests is observed among the Japanese population. In addition, the upper limit of methotrexate dosage to be used for RA is lower in Japan. We have therefore established official guidelines for the proper use of infliximab in Japanese RA patients. In this review, an algorithm for the diagnosis and management of TB in RA is presented in an evidenced-based form.
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