Absence of lentiviral and human T cell leukemia viral sequences in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Mar;37(3):349-58. doi: 10.1002/art.1780370308.


Objective: The etiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown, and the possibility that an infectious agent is involved has not been excluded. Lentiviruses can cause chronic arthritis in humans and in animals and have been suggested as candidate agents in RA. We therefore tested for the presence of lentiviruses and also for human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I)/HTLV-II in cells from patients with RA.

Methods: We used the polymerase chain reaction with degenerate primers designed to recognize highly conserved nucleotide sequences from 5 different pathogenic lentiviruses. This method allowed the detection of at least 1 infected cell/20,000 uninfected cells in control experiments.

Results: Testing of synovial cells and blood cells from patients with early RA and patients with established RA did not yield any specific viral product.

Conclusion: Our results do not support the presence of lentiviruses or HTLV-like sequences in RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / microbiology*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Female
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / genetics*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 2 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Synovial Fluid / microbiology


  • DNA, Viral

Associated data

  • GENBANK/J02029
  • GENBANK/K03327
  • GENBANK/K03455
  • GENBANK/M10060
  • GENBANK/M10608
  • GENBANK/M15390
  • GENBANK/M16575
  • GENBANK/M57592
  • GENBANK/X04500