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Monday 07 January 2008

Characteristics and Outcome of Connective Tissue Diseases in Patients with Sickle-Cell Disease: Report of 30 Cases.

By: Michel M, Habibi A, Godeau B, Bachir D, Lahary A, Galacteros F, Fifi-Mah A, Arfi S.

Semin Arthritis Rheum 2008 Jan;(): [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVES: To analyze the main characteristics of adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) and concurrent connective tissue disease (CTD). METHODS: A retrospective investigational study was performed. CTD was diagnosed according to standard international criteria. Severity of SCD was assessed by a clinical severity score. RESULTS: Thirty patients, 23 women (76%) and 7 men, with hemoglobin S/S (n = 25) or S/C (n = 5) SCD were included. The subtypes of CTD were rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (n = 15), definite systemic lupus erythematosus or "incomplete lupus" requiring treatment (n = 13), primary Sjögren's syndrome with central nervous system involvement (n = 1), and systemic sclerosis (n = 1). Twenty-five of the 30 patients (83%) received steroid treatment, and 15 (50%) received at least 1 immunosuppressive agent (methotrexate in 14 cases) to control CTD. Four RA patients were given antitumor necrosis factor (TNF)alpha and 1 was treated with rituximab without SCD exacerbation. After a median follow-up of 4.5 years [range: 6 months to 30 years] from CTD diagnosis, 11 of the 25 (44%) patients receiving steroids had at least 1 episode of severe infection (mostly due to Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli). SCD exacerbated in 13 of the 30 (43%) patients after CTD onset; 12 of these patients were receiving prednisone and/or methotrexate. Six patients (20%) had died from sepsis (n = 2), stroke (n = 2), or acute chest syndrome (n = 2). CONCLUSIONS: CTD-related clinical manifestations and outcome were not particularly severe in patients with SCD. However, those with active CTD and undergoing steroid +/- methotrexate treatment had more serious SCD-related manifestations, a higher rate of severe infections, and an overall patient mortality rate of 20%. Thus, the management of patients with CTD and underlying SCD should consider the risk/benefit ratio of each treatment and steroid-sparing strategies should be implemented.

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