Objective: To study whether HLA-B27 modifies the outcome of Salmonella infection in vivo.
Methods: The frequency of HLA-B27 was determined in 198 Salmonella-infected patients and 100 healthy controls by immunofluorescence and polymerase chain reaction. The excretion of Salmonella was monitored at monthly intervals. The symptoms of acute infection and possible joint involvement were evaluated using questionnaires.
Results: Thirty-eight of 198 Salmonella-infected patients (19.2%) and 13 of 100 healthy controls (13.0%) were HLA-B27 positive. The excretion of Salmonella did not differ significantly between HLA-B27-positive and -negative patients, or for patients with versus those without joint symptoms. As many as 35 patients (17.7%) reported Salmonella-triggered joint symptoms. Three of 14 patients (21.4%) with arthralgia, 5 of 13 patients (38.5%) with probable reactive arthritis (ReA), and 6 of 8 patients (75%) with confirmed ReA were HLA-B27 positive. The duration and severity of joint symptoms directly correlated with HLA-B27 positivity. Women reported Salmonella-induced pain and swelling of joints more frequently than men (P = 0.07 and P = 0.03, respectively). Patients with Salmonella-triggered joint symptoms reported abdominal pain and headache more frequently than patients without joint symptoms (P = 0.05 and P = 0.004, respectively).
Conclusion: HLA-B27 did not (at least, not strongly) confer susceptibility to Salmonella infection. Salmonella excretion correlated neither with HLA-B27 positivity nor with the occurrence of joint symptoms. Joint symptoms were surprisingly common during or after Salmonella infection. HLA-B27-positive patients had a significantly increased risk of developing joint and tendon symptoms. Moreover, HLA-B27 positivity correlated with the development of more severe and prolonged joint symptoms.