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13-09-2017 | Rheumatology | News | Article

News in brief

Herpes zoster infection ‘one potential trigger’ for giant cell arteritis

medwireNews: Results of a US study suggest that herpes zoster infection is associated with an increased risk for giant cell arteritis (GCA), but antiviral treatment and vaccination are unlikely to reduce this risk.

In an analysis of two databases – Medicare 5% and Truven MarketScan – Jeffrey Curtis (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA) and co-researchers found that 3.1% of 4160 patients with GCA in the MarketScan dataset and 6.0% of 1782 in the Medicare cohort had prior herpes zoster infection.

After adjustment for factors including gender, corticosteroid use, and vaccination, complicated herpes zoster infection was associated with a greater than twofold increase in the risk for GCA in a combined analysis of both datasets, whereas uncomplicated herpes zoster was associated with a 44% elevated risk.

The researchers observed “no consistent” benefit of antiviral treatment or herpes zoster vaccination in reducing the risk for GCA, however.

Together, these findings suggest that herpes zoster “may play a role in the pathogenesis of GCA,” but it is likely to be “only one potential trigger” given the small number of GCA patients with prior herpes zoster infection, conclude Curtis and team in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

By Claire Barnard

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2017 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group