Experimental Yersinia-triggered reactive arthritis: effect of a 3-week course of ciprofloxacin

Br J Rheumatol. 1997 May;36(5):541-6. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/36.5.541.


Lewis rats were injected i.v. with live Yersinia enterocolitica, resulting in 1-2 weeks in an arthritis greatly resembling human reactive arthritis. Starting on day 3, 5, 10 or 13 after the bacterial inoculation, the rats were treated for 3 weeks with 20 mg/kg/day of ciprofloxacin. The development of arthritis was completely prevented if the antibiotic treatment was started on day 3. In a group of rats treated with ciprofloxacin from day 5 onwards, 2/14 rats already showed mild arthritis at the time when the treatment was started. Antibiotic treatment cured the arthritis of these rats as well as that of one additional individual in this group which developed arthritis. No later exacerbations occurred. If the antibiotic treatment was started on day 10 or 13, i.e. at the time of well-developed arthritis, no effect on arthritis was observed; rather, increased faecal excretion of Yersinia occurred following the antibiotic treatment. We conclude that experimental Yersinia reactive arthritis can be cured by antibiotics introduced at an early phase of arthritic development. Regarding acute human enterogenic arthritis, the decision on antibiotic treatment is not a straightforward matter. Our experimental results indicate that the earlier the treatment is started, the better the result, whereas late treatments seem to favour bacterial persistence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Arthritis, Reactive / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Reactive / etiology
  • Arthritis, Reactive / prevention & control*
  • Ciprofloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Inbred SHR
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Time Factors
  • Yersinia Infections / complications
  • Yersinia Infections / drug therapy*
  • Yersinia Infections / immunology
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / immunology
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / isolation & purification
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / physiology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Ciprofloxacin