Open Access Open Badges Research article

Associations between selected immune-mediated diseases and tuberculosis: record-linkage studies

Sreeram V Ramagopalan12, Raph Goldacre3, Andrew Skingsley4, Chris Conlon5 and Michael J Goldacre3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PT, UK

2 Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 4 Newark Street, London, E1 2AT, UK

3 Unit of Health-Care Epidemiology, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Old Road, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK

4 Imperial College Medical School, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ, UK

5 Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Oxford University NHS Trust, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:97  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-97

Published: 4 April 2013



Previous studies have suggested that there may be an association between some immune-mediated diseases and risk of tuberculosis (TB).


We analyzed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the whole of England (1999 to 2011), and a similar database (the Oxford Record Linkage Study (ORLS)) for a region of southern England in an earlier period. Rate ratios for TB were determined, comparing immune-mediated disease cohorts with comparison cohorts.


In the all-England dataset, there were significantly elevated risks of TB after hospital admission for the following individual immune-mediated diseases: Addison's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic active hepatitis, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease, dermatomyositis, Goodpasture's syndrome, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), myasthenia gravis, myxedema, pemphigoid, pernicious anemia, polyarteritis nodosa, polymyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), thyrotoxicosis and ulcerative colitis. Particularly high levels of risk were found for Addison’s disease (rate ratio (RR) = 11.9 (95% CI 9.5 to 14.7)), Goodpasture’s syndrome (RR = 10.8 (95% CI 4.0 to 23.5)), SLE (RR = 9.4 (95% CI 7.9 to 11.1)), polymyositis (RR = 8.0 (95% CI 4.9 to 12.2)), polyarteritis nodosa (RR = 6.7 (95% CI 3.2 to 12.4)), dermatomyositis (RR = 6.6 (95% CI 3.0 to 12.5)), scleroderma (RR = 6.1 (95% CI 4.4 to 8.2)) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (RR = 5.1 (95% CI 3.4 to 7.4)).


These two databases show that patients with some immune-mediated diseases have an increased risk of TB, although we cannot explicitly state the direction of risk or exclude confounding. Further study of these associations is warranted, and these findings may aid TB screening, control and treatment policies.

Hospital episode statistics; Immune disease; Tuberculosis