OBJECTIVE--To gain information concerning the association between parvovirus B19 infection and arthritis. METHODS--Blood or synovial fluid, or both, from a total of 77 adult patients with various arthropathies (rheumatoid arthritis 13; mechanical arthropathies 11; crystal induced arthritis 13; idiopathic mono/oligoarthritis 25; suspicion of viral arthritis 15) were tested for the presence of the viral genome and anti-B19 antibodies. B19 DNA in blood and synovial fluid was investigated by nested polymerase chain reaction, and anti-B19 IgM and IgG antibodies were detected in blood by enzyme immunoassay. RESULTS--A recent parvovirus infection was documented by the presence of anti-B19 IgM antibodies in the blood of 13 patients. B19 DNA, together with anti-B19 IgM and IgG antibodies, were detected in the blood of seven patients who had an acute transient arthritis, putatively of viral origin. Viral DNA was detected in a synovial fluid sample and in the blood of one patient with monoarthritis who had an anti-B19 IgG response only. CONCLUSIONS--The prevalence of anti-B19 IgG antibody in these patients with various forms of arthritis (63%) was within the same range as that in the general population (blood donors). However, for the patients with clinical suspicion of viral arthritis, the increased seroprevalence of anti-B19 IgM and the presence of the B19 genome point to an association between human parvovirus infections and acute forms of arthritis.
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