Objective: To determine, by studying patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), whether rubella virus (rubella), mumps virus (mumps), or measles virus (measles) plays a role in the pathogenesis of RA.
Methods: Polymerase chain reaction combined with reverse transcription was used to detect viral RNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or synovial fluid (SF) cells. The patients with RA had newly diagnosed disease (duration < or = 1 year). The controls were patients with other arthropathies.
Results: Rubella genomic RNA was not detected in SF cells from patients with early RA or from controls, or in PBMC from patients with RA. It was found in PBMC of one of 46 patients with other arthropathies. Mumps or measles genomic RNA was detected in PBMC samples from 1.8% (1/54) and 9.3% (5/54) of RA, respectively, and from 4.3% (2/46) and 6.5% (3/46) of control patients. The SF cell samples harbored mumps or measles RNA in 4.8% (2/42) and 7.1% (3/42) of patients with RA, respectively; the corresponding value was 6.5% (2/31) for control patients, for both mumps and measles.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest rubella, mumps, or measles do not play a role in the etiopathogenesis of RA.