Objective: The recent identification of antigens or nucleic acids of infectious agents in the joints of patients with reactive arthritis has raised questions about whether chlamydial or other infectious agent nucleic acids are also present in normal joints. We had the opportunity to study synovium from 30 asymptomatic volunteer subjects by use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for attempted identification of Chlamydia and other infectious agents.
Methods: All subjects had blind needle synovial biopsies with the Parker-Pearson needle. DNA was extracted and PCR performed using primers for Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Borrelia burgdorferi, and pan bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA).
Results: Two subjects were identified with nucleic acid for the 16S rRNA gene of C trachomatis. All other PCR reactions were negative except for the pan bacterial 16S rRNA in the C trachomatis-positive subjects. Both subjects, although symptom free, had some evidence of synovial reaction.
Conclusion: C trachomatis appears to occasionally be disseminated to joints without producing overt disease.