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The risk of infections in adult patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: systematic review and meta-analysis

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Published:4th Jan 2021
Author: Pego-Reigosa JM, Nicholson L, Pooley N, Langham S, Embleton N, Marjenberg Z et al.
Source: Rheumatology
Availability: Free full text
Ref.:Rheumatology (Oxford). 2021 Jan 5;60(1):60-72.
DOI:10.1093/rheumatology/keaa478
The risk of infections in adult patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: systematic review and meta-analysis


Objectives:
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the magnitude of infection risk in patients with SLE and evaluate the effect of general and SLE-related factors on infection risk.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE and Embase from inception to July 2018, screening for observational studies that evaluated infection risk in patients with SLE compared with the general population/healthy controls. Outcomes of interest included overall severe infection, herpes zoster infection/reactivation, opportunistic infections, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Random-effects models were used to calculate pooled risk ratios (RRs) for each type of infection. Sensitivity analysis assessed the impact of removing studies with high risk of bias.

Results: Eleven retrospective or prospective cohort studies were included in the meta-analysis: overall severe infection (n = 4), pneumonia (n = 6), tuberculosis (n = 3) and herpes zoster (n = 2). Pooled RRs for overall severe infection significantly increased for patients with SLE compared with the general population/healthy controls [RR 2.96 (95% CI 1.28, 6.83)]. Pooled RRs for pneumonia, herpes zoster and tuberculosis showed significantly increased risk compared with the general population/healthy controls [RR 2.58 (1.80, 3.70), 2.50 (2.36, 2.65) and 6.11 (3.61, 10.33), respectively]. Heterogeneity and evidence of publication bias were present for all analyses, except herpes zoster. Sensitivity analyses confirmed robustness of the results.

Conclusion: Patients with SLE have significantly higher risk of infection compared with the general population/healthy controls. Efforts to strengthen strategies aimed at preventing infections in SLE are needed.

Protocol registration: PROSPERO number: CRD42018109425.


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