Chronic lyme arthritis. Clinical and immunogenetic differentiation from rheumatoid arthritis
Ten patients with Lyme arthritis have developed chronic involvement of one or both knees. Lyme arthritis was diagnosed by onset with erythema chronicum migrans (six patients); residence in Lyme, Connecticut (eight); seasonal onset in summer and early fall (nine); early periods of short recurrent attacks (nine); absence of rheumatoid factor (nine); and absence of symmetrical polyarthritis, morning stiffness, subcutaneous nodules, or antinuclear antibodies (in all). Five patients had synovectomies; pannus formation and underlying cartilage erosion were present in all. Seven of the 10 patients had the same B-cell alloantigen, DRw2 (frequency in normal control subjects, 22% [P less than 0.005]), but did not have an increased frequency of the alloantigens associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic Lyme arthritis, the result of an apparent tick-transmitted infection, resembles rheumatoid arthritis pathologically but generally differs from it in both prearticular and immunogenetic characteristics.