Tuberculosis of the tongue in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis treated with methotrexate and adalimumab.

In recent years Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF alfa) inhibitors have been highly effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, patients receiving these inhibitors have an increased risk of developing tuberculosis (TB). We describe a rare case of tuberculosis of the tongue in an RA patient treated with methotrexate (MTX) and the TNF alfa inhibitor adalimumab (ADA) for the previous six years. Pretreatment tuberculin skin test (TST) was negative. The patient was admitted to our division complaining of a sore throat for months. Clinical examination revealed a swollen non-healing ulcer at the base of the tongue, which was suspected to be a squamous cell carcinoma. Histopathological assessment unexpectedly revealed a chronic granulomatous inflammation compatible with tuberculosis. TST was strongly positive and the T Spot TB test was also reactive. MTX and ADA were discontinued and the patient received antituberculous treatment with complete healing of the lesion. After three months our patient had a worsening RA that was treated with MTX and rituximab with no TB related adverse events. This case highlights the importance of considering tuberculosis in the differential diagnosis of ulcerative lesions of the oral cavity, especially in immunocompromised patients treated with TNF alfa inhibitors. Rituximab can be a valid alternative therapy in such patients.
AuthorsLuca Rosario Assante, Enrica Barra, Marialuisa Bocchino, Giacomo Zuccarini, Gerardo Ferrara, Alessandro Sanduzzi
JournalLe infezioni in medicina : rivista periodica di eziologia, epidemiologia, diagnostica, clinica e terapia delle patologie infettive (Infez Med) Vol. 22 Issue 2 Pg. 144-8 (Jun 2014) ISSN: 1124-9390 [Print] Italy
PMID24955803 (Publication Type: Case Reports, Journal Article)
Chemical References
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Rituximab
  • Adalimumab
  • Methotrexate
  • Adalimumab (administration & dosage, adverse effects)
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents (administration & dosage, adverse effects)
  • Antitubercular Agents (therapeutic use)
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid (complications, drug therapy)
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Methotrexate (administration & dosage, adverse effects)
  • Rituximab (administration & dosage)
  • Tongue Diseases (diagnosis, drug therapy, microbiology)
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis, Oral (diagnosis, drug therapy, microbiology)

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