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Further genomic testing and histological examinations confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in an Italian mummy from the 16th century
  1. Gabriella Fontecchio1,
  2. Luca Ventura2,
  3. Anna Maria Poma1
  1. 1Dipartimento di Biologia di Base ed Applicata, Università di L’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italia
  2. 2U.O.C. di Anatomia ed Istologia Patologica, Ospedale S. Salvatore, L’Aquila, Italia
  1. Correspondence toAnna M Poma, Dipartimento di Biologia di Base e Applicata, Università di L’Aquila, Via Vetoio 1 I-67100, L’Aquila, Italia; annamaria.poma{at}

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We wish to reconsider the case of a 50–55-year-old female mummy, living in the 16th century, exhumed in San Francesco Church, Arezzo (Northern Italy) and renamed ‘Braids Lady’.1 Her body, after paleopathological examinations, revealed numerous signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).2 However, some authors propose ankylosing spondylitis (AS), suggesting that RA originated among native Americans and that this disease was absent in Europe before the discovery of America (1492 AD).3 RA and AS are human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-linked autoimmume rheumatic diseases (ARDs) but their manifestations are associated with different susceptibility genes: specific HLA-DRB1alleles for RA and HLA-B27 for AS.4 5 We reinforced these pathological data through genotyping tests, demonstrating that the mummy bore the HLA-DRB1*0101 allele, which, along with DRB1*0401 and DRB1*0404, is one of the main genes …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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