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Risk of Bloodstream Infection in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Exposed to Prolonged Medium-to-High-Dose Glucocorticoids.

Lupus 2023 April
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate the incidence rate and risk factors of bloodstream infection (BSI) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) exposed to medium to high doses of glucocorticoids.

METHODS: This study included 1109 treatment episodes with prolonged (≥4 weeks) medium-to-high-dose glucocorticoids (≥15 mg/day prednisolone) in 612 patients with SLE for over 14 years. Clinical features regarding systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K), immunosuppressant use, and laboratory results were obtained from the electronic medical database. The primary outcome of this study was the 1-year incidence of BSI. The effect of clinical factors on the outcome was investigated using a generalized estimating equation.

RESULTS: During a total of 1078.64 person-years, 30 cases of BSI occurred, with an incidence rate of 2.78 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.88-3.97) per 100 person-years. Mortality rate of the treatment episodes with BSI was 16.7%, which was significantly higher than that in the other episodes (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 19.59, 95% CI 7.33-52.44). When the incidence rate of BSI was stratified by baseline glucocorticoid dose and SLEDAI-2K score, a higher incidence rate of BSI occurred as disease activity or baseline glucocorticoid dose increased. In the multivariable analysis, SLEDAI-2K ≥20 (adjusted IRR (aIRR) 4.66, 95% CI 2.17-10.00), initial baseline prednisolone ≥ 60 mg/day (aIRR 2.42, 95% CI 1.11-5.32), and cumulative prednisolone dose ≥15 mg/day during the previous 6 months (aIRR 2.13, 95% CI 1.03-4.40) significantly increased the risk of BSI.

CONCLUSION: In patients with SLE exposed to prolonged medium-to-high-dose glucocorticoids, the 1-year incidence rate of BSI was significantly higher than previously reported in the general patients with SLE. Severe disease activity, and high-dose glucocorticoid treatment previously or at baseline increased the risk of BSI.

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