Reactive arthritis: preliminary microbiologic analysis of the human temporomandibular joint

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2000 Oct;58(10):1137-42; discussion 1143-4. doi: 10.1053/joms.2000.9575.


Purpose: The presence of Chlamydia trachomatis has been previously shown in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This study investigated whether the presence of other bacteria associated with reactive arthritis (ReA) can be identified in the TMJ.

Materials and methods: Posterior bilaminar tissue removed during TMJ surgery from 26 patients (24 F, 2 M) was evaluated for the presence of C. trachomatis, Mycoplasma fermentans, Mycoplasma genitalium, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella spp, and Shigella spp by highly specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays.

Results: Bacterial DNA was identified in the TMJ as follows: C. trachomatis, 11 of 26 (42%); M. fermentans/orale, 6 of 26 (23%); M. genitalium, 9 of 26 (35%). Nine of 26 TMJs (35%) had the presence of a single bacterial species. Eight of 26 TMJs (31%) had more than 1 species, as follows: C. trachomatis with either M. genitalium or M. fermentans/orale in 5 of 26 (19%), M. fermentans/orale with M. genitalium 2 of 26 (8%), and C. trachomatis/M. fermentans/orale/M. genitalium, 1 of 26 (4%). A total of 17 of 26 (65%) of TMJs had the presence of bacteria identified in the TMJ. Campylobacter jejuni, Y. enterocolitica, Salmonella spp, and Shigella spp were not identified in any samples.

Conclusions: The presence of M. genitalium in the human TMJ has not been previously reported. The presence of bacteria in the TMJ, either singly or concurrently with other bacteria, may serve as the pathogenetic mechanism of TMJ inflammation. The presence of 2 bacteria from the urogenital tract in the TMJ suggests that internal derangement of the TMJ may occur as a result of a sexually acquired infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Reactive / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Campylobacter jejuni / isolation & purification
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial