Send to

Choose Destination
Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Dec;24(3):190-210.

Reiter's syndrome and reactive arthritis: a current view.

Author information

Department of Rheumatology, St Peter's Hospital Trust, Chertsey, United Kingdom.


This paper reviews advances in the understanding of the pathogenesis of reactive arthritis that have occurred over the last decade. Inflammatory aseptic joint disease has been linked with prior infection initiated by many different species of microorganisms. The presence of intra-articular bacterial antigens has now been firmly established with the demonstration of bacteria, bacterial fragments, DNA, RNA, and bacterial lipopolysaccharide in joints of patients with reactive arthritis. Chlamydia trachomatis, Salmonella enteritidis, and Shigella flexneri have all been detected in the joint by immunological techniques, although there is still some doubt as to the form in which they reach the joint and whether or not they persist. A number of phlogistic bacterial components could be acting as arthritogens. Negative joint culture results from patients with reactive arthritis make it unlikely that bacteria in the joint are viable, although chlamydial DNA has been shown in the joints of patients with sexually acquired reactive arthritis using the polymerase chain reaction. The use of antimicrobial therapy in the treatment of reactive arthritis is under review; data suggests that long-term antibiotic treatment warrants further study. The role of HLA-B27 in disease pathogenesis is discussed as are possible mechanisms of interplay between germ and gene. HLA-B27 might confer disease susceptibility by affecting immune mechanisms other than classical antigen presentation. The immunopathogenesis of joint inflammation in reactive arthritis is explored with reference to studies of humoral and cellular immune responses. Serological evidence to support the concept of molecular mimicry is far from conclusive; the results of relevant studies are summarized. Lymphocyte proliferation experiments suggest that antigen presenting cells play an important role. Finally, our views on reactive arthritis in the 1990s, and areas of new and potentially fruitful future research are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center