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Research Article

Role of Chlamydia trachomatis and HLA-B27 in sexually acquired reactive arthritis.

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 11 March 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:605
  1. A C Keat,
  2. R N Maini,
  3. G C Nkwazi,
  4. G D Pegrum,
  5. G L Ridgway,
  6. J T Scott


    Inflammatory arthritis, tendinitis, and fasciitis after non-specific urethritis ("sexually acquired reactive arthritis" (SARA)) was studied prospectively in 531 men with non-specific urethritis, with particular reference to the frequency of isolation of Chlamydia trachomatis and the presence of HLA-B27. Satisfactory cultures were obtained from the urethral swabs from 384 patients; and HLA typing was performed on 482, of whom 30 (6%) were HLA-B27-positive. Arthritis developed in 16 patients, and five of the 14 (36%) with satisfactory cultures were positive for C trachomatis; 135 of the patients without arthritis were also positive for C trachomatis, an identical proportion. Seven of the 15 patients (40%) with arthritis who were HLA-typed were HLA-B27-positive. Six of the 30 patients with HLA-B27 developed peripheral arthritis in contrast to only nine of the 452 patients lacking the antigen, suggesting a tenfold increase susceptibility. C trachomatis, however, was no more prevalent in cultures from HLA-B27-positive men than from the others. Thus carriage of C trachomatis is unlikely to be influenced by HLA-B27. C trachomatis may be an important pathogen in some cases of SARA but does not appear to be an exclusive trigger factor for this condition.