Objective: There is much evidence indicating that chlamydial antigens in the synovium may be critical in the pathogenesis of Reiter's syndrome (RS), but it is not known whether intact organisms are present in that tissue in any stage of the disease. The present study was undertaken to begin to address this question.
Methods: We used a highly specific and sensitive molecular hybridization screening system which detects chlamydial RNA, to examine synovial biopsy samples from 22 patients with various arthropathies, including 9 with RS.
Results: Seven of the 9 RS patients were positive for chlamydial RNA, while 3 of the 13 non-RS patients were also positive; positive results in the non-RS patients probably indicate the actual presence of the organism, since these patients had arthritis that was otherwise incompletely explained.
Conclusion: The detection of chlamydial RNA, in combination with previous findings of chlamydia-like particles and/or chlamydial antigens in the synovium of RS patients, suggests that whole bacterial cells are present in that tissue.