Cultivation of Tropheryma whipplei from the synovial fluid in Whipple's arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2007 May;56(5):1713-8. doi: 10.1002/art.22596.


This report describes a patient who presented with fever, weight loss, diarrhea, and adenopathy. At the time of presentation he had a 28-year history of unusually severe destructive polyarthritis. Duodenal biopsy revealed periodic acid-Schiff-positive macrophages. Polymerase chain reaction studies showed positivity for Tropheryma whipplei in synovial fluid, synovial tissue, and lymph node specimens, and Whipple's disease was diagnosed. T whipplei was successfully cultivated from the synovial fluid by both cell culture and axenic culture. This strain (named ART1) was subcultured and subsequently established and genotyped. Antibiotic treatment was instituted in the patient, after which his symptoms remitted. These findings show for the first time that Whipple's arthritis may be, at least in some cases, a septic arthritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / genetics
  • Actinobacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Carpal Joints / diagnostic imaging
  • Carpal Joints / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Radiography
  • Synovial Fluid / microbiology*
  • Whipple Disease / diagnosis*
  • Whipple Disease / drug therapy
  • Whipple Disease / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial