A novel cluster of patients with Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) in southern Italy (2017)


PMID: 28678379

DOI: 10.1111/eci.12783

Background: Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is an autosomal recessive autoinflammatory disorder characterised by recurrent attacks of fever and serositis (peritonitis, pleuritic or synovitis) affecting mainly populations of Mediterranean origin.

Aim: To describe a relatively new cluster of FMF subjects from Apulia and Basilicata regions (southern Italy).

Patients and methods: Subjects were screened for FMF using the Tel-Hashomer criteria and genetic analysis. Demographic data were taken from patients’ files and direct interviews. Patients were investigated about attack duration, intensity and site, body temperature, skin manifestations and overall quality of life before and after treatment with colchicine. Inflammatory parameters were also measured between these periods.

Results: Forty-nine subjects had FMF (M : F = 26 : 23, age 38 years ± 2 SE) and followed-up up to 8 years. The age at disease onset was 22·1 years ± 1·2SE and the diagnostic delay was 15·5 years ± 1·9SE. The majority of patients (82%) suffered from abdominal pain, and 35% had undergone prior abdominal surgery or laparotomy. Severity score (ISSF) was mild in 43% of patients and intermediate in 57% of patients. Serum amyloid A (SAA) was increased in 20% of patients (16·9 ± 3·7, normal range < 6·4 mg/dL). In over 95% of patients, inflammation markers, duration and intensity of febrile painful attacks, quality of life and ISSF score improved dramatically following colchicine treatment.

Conclusion: The Apulia region represents a new endemic area for FMF. Clinical presentation of FMF can be misleading and requires a complete and early workup to recognise the disease and avoid unjustified surgery. Colchicine remains the gold standard therapy to prevent FMF attacks and fatal long-term complications.

Leonilde Bonfrate
Giuseppe Scaccianoce
Giuseppe Palasciano
Eldad Ben-Chetrit
Piero Portincasa