Purpose of review: Chlamydia-induced arthritis is the most frequent form of reactive arthritis in Western countries. This article gives an overview of the recent findings with respect to diagnosis, pathogenesis, and therapy of the disease.
Recent findings: Recent advances in the modification and standardization of polymerase chain reaction techniques give promise to identify Chlamydia more frequently from joint samples. Based on the sequenced chlamydial genome, considerable progress has been achieved in the understanding of the Chlamydia-host cell interaction, indicating that persistence is an alternate state of the bacteria used by Chlamydia to escape the immune system of the host rather than a general stress response. Furthermore, Chlamydia has the ability to reprogram the host cell by chlamydial effector proteins, which are transported from the inclusion into the host cell cytoplasm. The role of HLA-B27 is discussed in view of the pathogenesis of the disease. HLA-B27 should be considered a risk factor for chronic and/or axial disease rather than a true susceptibility factor for the development of Chlamydia-induced arthritis. No progress has been made in terms of causative therapy aiming at eradication of the bacteria. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocking agents may represent a new option in cases that are refractory to therapy.
Summary: Molecular biology not only has improved the ability to detect Chlamydia in the joint for diagnostic purposes but also has extended the current understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease. In contrast to this progress, causative therapy of Chlamydia-induced arthritis is still an unfulfilled need.