Chlamydia and associated arthritis

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Abstract

An inflammatory arthritis is known to follow urogenital infection with the intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis in some individuals, and recent research results have elucidated important aspects of the characteristics of this Chlamydia-associated joint disease. Although the several extra-articular features of Chlamydia- induced arthritis have been defined clinically, their detailed causes remain largely unexplained. Current data indicate that the clinical characteristics of joint disease associated with C. trachomatis infection and those associated with postenteric arthritis are not easily distinguishable, although the response of each to antibiotic therapy does differ. The biologic characteristics of Chlamydia and enteric organisms in the joint show profound differences, and these are probably responsible for the variable responses to drug treatment. Molecular analyses of synovial C. trachomatis have demonstrated that long-term infection of the joint occurs primarily in synovial tissue and that the organism exhibits highly unusual biologic properties in its synovial context. These unusual molecular, biochemical, and other characteristics provide explanations for the frequent culture negativity of joint materials for C. trachomatis and for several other aspects of the arthritogenic process. Much remains to be learned concerning the behavior of this organism in the joint and concerning its interaction with its synovial host cells.

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