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HLA-DRB genotyping of an Italian mummy from the 16th century with signs of rheumatoid arthritis
  1. G Fontecchio1,
  2. L Ventura2,
  3. R Azzarone1,
  4. M A Fioroni1,
  5. G Fornaciari3,
  6. F Papola1
  1. 1Centro Regionale di Immunoematologia e Tipizzazione Tissutale, Azienda ASL n.4, P.le Collemaggio, L’Aquila, Italy
  2. 2U. O. di Anatomia ed Istologia Patologica, Azienda ASL n. 4, L’Aquila, Italy
  3. 3Sezione di Storia della Medicina, Dipartimento di Oncologia, dei Trapianti e Nuove Tecnologie Mediche, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    G Fontecchio
    Centro Regionale di Immunoematologia e Tipizzazione Tissutale, Azienda ASL n.4, P.le Collemaggio, L’Aquila 67100, Italy; f.papola{at}virgilio.it

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Some paleopathological studies suggest that rheumatoid arthritis originated in the New World (among ancient Native Americans in Tennessee and neighbouring areas, 5000–500 BC); only after the discovery of America was the origin of the disease attributed to the Old World.1 In 1996, under the floors of the San Francisco church (Arezzo, Italy), a female mummy was discovered. This 50–55-year-old woman, re-named the “Braids Lady”, died at the end of the 16th century. Several diagnostic examinations disclosed distinctive rheumatoid arthritis skeletal deformities due to rheumatoid arthritis in her body: large erosions of the metacarpophalangeal joints of the left hand; lateral deviation of all the fingers, with a typical “Z” deformation of the first …

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