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Paradoxical immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in neurotuberculosis
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  • Published on:
    Paradoxical reactions in neurotuberculosis – what is the optimal management?
    • Yara N Abo, Paediatric Infectious Diseases Registrar Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Australia
    • Other Contributors:
      • Nigel Curtis, Head of Infectious Diseases
      • Amanda Gwee, Infectious Diseases Physician, Clinical Pharmacologist, General Paediatrician

    Sindgikar et al. report a severe paradoxical reaction in a 15-year-old HIV-uninfected patient with stage III tuberculous meningitis, during her fifth month of treatment. After improving with re-initiation of corticosteroids, the paradoxical reaction worsened after the prednisolone was weaned over 8 weeks. The patient continued 4 months of corticosteroids in addition to 13 months anti-TB treatment (ATT) with significant morbidity at one year follow up, including permanent disability.

    Whilst corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for paradoxical reactions, their effectiveness for this difficult-to-treat complication has not been assessed in randomised controlled trials (RCT)(1). TNF-alpha is a key cytokine implicated in the exaggerated inflammatory response underlying paradoxical reactions (2,3). We have used infliximab, a monoclonal antibody targeting TNF-alpha, in the management of severe paradoxical reactions in paediatric central nervous system TB with positive outcomes (4,5). Anti-TNFα monoclonal antibodies, including infliximab, have also been used with encouraging results in adults for this indication (6,7). Thalidomide, another anti-TNF-alpha therapy was evaluated in an RCT of children with stage II and III tuberculous meningitis (8), however, this trial was ceased early due to increased deaths and adverse outcomes with a thalidomide dose of 24 mg/kg/day. A subsequent case series of 38 children treated with low-dose thalidomide (3-5 mg/kg) with life-th...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.