Chlamydia trachomatis and reactive arthritis: the missing link

Lancet. 1987 Jan 10;1(8524):72-4. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(87)91910-6.


Reactive inflammatory arthritis is a common sequel to sexually acquired non-gonococcal genital-tract infection. Approximately 50% of cases are associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the genital tract, although conventional cultures of joint material are sterile. Synovium, synovial-fluid cells, or both, from eight patients with sexually acquired reactive arthritis (SARA) and eight with knee effusions associated with other rheumatic diseases were examined by means of a fluorescein-labelled monoclonal antibody to C trachomatis ('Micro Trak'; Syva). Typical chlamydial elementary bodies were seen in joint material from five patients with SARA but in none of the controls. An inclusion-like cluster of elementary bodies was seen in one synovial biopsy sample. All five patients had high titres of serum chlamydial antibody. It is likely that the synovitis of SARA results directly from the presence of chlamydial elementary bodies in the joint.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis
  • Arthritis, Infectious / etiology*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphogranuloma Venereum / complications*
  • Male


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Bacterial