Temporal arteritis and Chlamydia pneumoniae: Failure to detect the organism by polymerase chain reaction in ninety cases and ninety controls

Michael J. Regan, Billie Jo Wood, Yu Hsiang Hsieh, Mellisa L. Theodore, Thomas C. Quinn, David B. Hellmann, W. Richard Green, Charlotte A. Gaydos, John H. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine the reported correlation between the presence of Chlamydia pneumoniae in temporal artery biopsy specimens and the diagnosis of temporal arteritis (TA). Methods. Among 90 possible cases of TA identified at our institution between 1968 and 2000, 79 of the positive biopsy specimens (88%) demonstrated giant cells and the other 11 cases (12%) had other histopathologic features compatible with TA; by chart review, all 90 patients were confirmed to have met the American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for TA. Controls had negative temporal artery biopsy specimens during the same 32-year time period and their postbiopsy disease courses were not compatible with TA. Controls were matched with each case by sex, year of biopsy, and age within 10 years. The biopsy specimens from all cases and controls were reevaluated and readings were confirmed in a masked manner by an experienced eye pathologist. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses for C pneumoniae were performed on the 180 samples using 2 different sets of PCR primers (which target 2 different genes). A primer set targeting the ompA gene (CP1-CP2/CPC-CPD) was used to perform a nested PCR, followed by confirmation of the findings with primers targeting the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene (Cpn90/Cpn91) in a touchdown-enzyme timerelease PCR. We used positive and negative controls, as well as controls made from infected and noninfected HEp-2 cells, suspended in a formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded matrix. Results. Seventy-six percent of the 180 cases and controls were women. The mean age of the cases was 72.0 years (range 53-90), and that of the controls was 70.4 years (range 51-86). Eighty percent of the control samples were obtained by temporal artery biopsy performed within 1 year of the biopsies performed on the matched cases. Using the CP1-CP2/CPC-CPD primer set, only 1 TA case sample (1% of all case samples) was positive for the ompA gene. One control sample was also positive using these primers. With the Cpn90/Cpn91 primers, none of the cases and none of the controls were positive for the 16S rRNA gene. Conclusion. The results of this study using sensitive and specific PCR analyses do not support a role for C pneumoniae in the pathogenesis of TA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1056-1060
Number of pages5
JournalArthritis and rheumatism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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