Leishmaniasis and tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists in the Mediterranean basin. A switch in clinical expression

Pau Bosch-Nicolau, Maria Ubals, Fernando Salvador, Adrián Sánchez-Montalvá, Gloria Aparicio, Alba Erra, Pablo Martinez De Salazar, Elena Sulleiro, Israel Molina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

17 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) blockers are recognized as a risk factor for reactivation of granulomatous infections. Leishmaniasis has been associated with the use of these drugs, although few cases have been reported. METHODOLOGY: We performed a retrospective observational study including patients with confirmed leishmaniasis acquired in the Mediterranean basin that were under TNF-α blockers therapy at the moment of the diagnosis. Patients diagnosed in our hospital from 2008 to 2018 were included. Moreover, a systematic review of the literature was performed and cases fulfilling the inclusion criteria were also included. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Forty-nine patients were analyzed including nine cases from our series. Twenty-seven (55.1%) cases were male and median age was 55 years. Twenty-five (51%) patients were under infliximab treatment, 20 (40.8%) were receiving adalimumab, 2 (4.1%) etanercept, one (2%) golimumab and one (2%) a non-specified TNF-α blocker. Regarding clinical presentation, 28 (57.1%) presented as cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), 16 (32.6%) as visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and 5 (10.2%) as mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL). All VL and MCL patients were treated with systemic therapies. Among CL patients, 13 (46.4%) were treated with a systemic drug (11 received L-AmB, one intramuscular antimonials and one miltefosine) while 14 (50%) patients were given local treatment (13 received intralesional pentavalent antimonials, and one excisional surgery). TNF-α blockers were interrupted in 32 patients (65.3%). After treatment 5 patients (10.2%) relapsed. Four patients with a CL (3 initially treated with local therapy maintaining TNF-α blockers and one treated with miltefosine) and one patient with VL treated with L-AmB maintaining TNF-α blockers. CONCLUSIONS: This data supports the assumption that the blockage of TNF-α modifies clinical expression of leishmaniasis in endemic population modulating the expression of the disease leading to atypical presentations. According to the cases reported, the best treatment strategy would be a systemic drug and the discontinuation of the TNF-α blockers therapy until clinical resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0007708
Pages (from-to)e0007708
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • HOST
  • TNF


Dive into the research topics of 'Leishmaniasis and tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists in the Mediterranean basin. A switch in clinical expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this