Chlamydia trachomatis is present and metabolically active during the remitting phase in synovial tissues from patients with chronic Chlamydia-induced reactive arthritis

Am J Med Sci. 2013 Jul;346(1):22-5. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e3182648740.


Background: Patients with chronic Chlamydia-induced reactive arthritis (ReA) often show a remitting-relapsing disease phenotype. Some information regarding bacterial and host responses to one another during active disease is available but no information for quiescence. This article presents the first molecular genetic insight into the behavior of bacterium and host during remitting ReA.

Methods: Synovial biopsies were procured from the knees of 4 patients with quiescent ReA by the Parker-Pearson technique. Nucleic acids prepared from them were analyzed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse transcription-PCR, and results were compared with data averaged from the knee synovial tissue samples of 10 patients with active ReA.

Results: Real-time PCR indicated that bacterial load in remitting samples was approximately 20% of that in active disease samples. Transcripts from the p60-encoding gene were equal to or higher than those seen in active disease. Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) from the paralog p60-encoding genes were equal to or lower than those of active disease. Host mRNAs encoding interleukin-10, tumor necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ were 4-fold lower than those in active disease samples, whereas monocyte chemotactic protein 1 and regulated upon activation, normal t-cell expressed, and secreted mRNA levels were equal to or higher.

Conclusions: Bacterial load in synovial tissue of patients with remitting disease is lower than that of active disease, but mRNAs encoding proinflammatory proteins are equal to or higher than those of active disease. Transcription in the host is attenuated for cytokines and chemokines. These initial results demonstrate that organism is present and metabolically active in synovium during the remitting phase of chronic Chlamydia-induced ReA and that the genetic events characterizing quiescence are complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Reactive / complications
  • Arthritis, Reactive / microbiology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Chlamydia Infections / complications
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • DNA Primers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prohibitins
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Synovial Membrane / microbiology*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • DNA Primers
  • PHB2 protein, human
  • Prohibitins
  • RNA, Messenger