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Arthritis Rheum. 1995 Oct;38(10):1410-7.

Alteration of Chlamydia trachomatis biologic behavior in synovial membranes. Suppression of surface antigen production in reactive arthritis and Reiter's syndrome.

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KhonKaen University, Thailand.



To investigate the biologic state of Chlamydia and its surface antigen expression in the synovial membranes of patients with Chlamydia-associated reactive arthritis/Reiter's syndrome (ReA/RS).


Expression of chlamydial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), major outer membrane protein (MOMP), and elementary body (EB) antigens was studied by gold labeling immunoelectron microscopy on 6 synovial membrane and 2 synovial fluid (SF) pellet samples from 6 patients with Chlamydia-associated arthritis. The study findings were compared with 24-hour cultures of HeLa cells infected with Chlamydia trachomatis EB.


Persistent C trachomatis infection was found in all 6 synovial membrane samples from patients who had either early or chronic arthritis. The infection persisted despite antibiotic treatment, including a 1-month course of doxycycline therapy. Most persistent organisms were atypical reticulate bodies (RBs) found in both fibroblasts and macrophages. Specific, but weak, immunogold staining for all 3 antibodies was found on both intracellular RBs and extracellular EBs. In the SF samples, Chlamydia surface antigens were detected only in phagosomes containing degraded electron-dense materials.


The synovial membrane biopsies conducted in this study of Chlamydia-associated ReA/RS revealed atypical RBs with diminished MOMP and LPS expression. Such altered organisms may escape immune surveillance and contribute to disease chronicity; moreover, these organisms may be difficult to detect and treat in some ReA/RS patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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