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Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Jul;44(7):1689-97.

Chromosomal DNA from a variety of bacterial species is present in synovial tissue from patients with various forms of arthritis.

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1
Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We and others have reported the presence of Chlamydia and other bacterial species in joint specimens from patients with reactive arthritis (ReA). The present study was conducted to investigate whether bacteria other than those specified by diagnostic criteria for ReA could be identified in synovial fluid (SF) or tissue from patients with various arthritides, and whether the presence of such organisms corresponds to particular clinical characteristics in any patient set or subset.

METHODS:

DNA in synovial biopsy samples and SF obtained from 237 patients with various arthritides, including ReA, rheumatoid arthritis, and undifferentiated oligoarthritis, was assayed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using "panbacterial" primers; we chose only samples known to be PCR negative for Chlamydia, Borrelia, and Mycoplasma species. PCR products were cloned, and cloned amplicons from each sample were sequenced; DNA sequences were compared against all others in GenBank for identification of bacterial species involved.

RESULTS:

Ten percent of patient samples were PCR positive in panbacterial screening assays. Bacterial species identified belonged to the genera Neisseria, Acinetobacter, Moraxella, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, and others. Thirty-five percent of PCR-positive patients showed the presence of DNA from more than a single bacterial species in synovium; overall, however, we could identify no clear relationship between specific single or multiple bacterial species in the synovium and any general clinical characteristics of any individual or group of patients.

CONCLUSION:

This analysis provides the first systematic attempt to relate bacterial nucleic acids in the synovium to clinical characteristics, joint findings, and outcomes. Many patients with arthritis have bacterial DNA in the joint, and, in some cases, DNA from more than a single species is present. However, except for 1 case of a control patient with staphylococcal septic arthritis, it is not clear from the present study whether the synovial presence of such organisms is related to disease pathogenesis or evolution in any or all cases.

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